Friday, June 29, 2012

Supreme Court upholds insurance industry bailout

Okay, people, it would appear that the world survived yesterday's Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act. Of course you couldn't tell from the reaction of conservative commentators who seemed united in their message that this decision marked the end of Western civilization as we know it (not that would be a terrible thing).

The reality is that the Supreme Court did what the robed ones are supposed to do. They began with the premise that the law was constitutional. They looked for a provision that authorized Congress to require individuals to purchase health care coverage. They made their ruling as narrow as possible.

As to the merits of the individual mandate, the states have for years required motorists to purchase liability insurance on the cars they drive. The difference here is that it was the federal government requiring the citizenry to purchase an insurance product rather than the state.

But, having said that, the individual mandate amounts to the biggest chunk of corporate welfare in this nation's history. The real beneficiaries of the decision are the health insurance companies who will now get a new flock of customers to buy their over-priced products. Keep in mind that these insurance companies the government is trusting our health care to have failed miserably to keep costs down over the last 20 years.

What these companies have done is reduce benefits and services while at the same time increasing premiums and profits. This drive to squeeze out every possible penny in health care dollars will continue unabated as long as the government mandates that we purchase coverage from a private company.

The companies fought tooth-and-nail against the public option - realizing that should the keys to the health care system be handed over to the government, the days of milk and honey would be over. Instead, under the guise of providing coverage for the uninsured, the ACA will keep insurance company executives rolling in the dough.

Access to health care is a human right, but so long as the profit motive runs our health care system, the people will always be on the short end.

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