Sunday, December 4, 2011

When Ideology Meets Nessessity cont.

Another entry by FrumFourm's "Galatea" has been published, this one taking the issue of healthcare head-on with the title "I Heart Romneycare". I previously commented on "Galatea's" inability to connect her political ideology with the nessessity of heathcare services.

You can read the new piece for yourself, but I am personally underwhelmed by the author's grasp of the issue. The essay is written as an open "letter" to Mitt Romney in a playful, somewhat humorously sexual tone. While it is clear the author was concerned more with entertainment that education in the piece, the policy tidbits are depressingly callow. First she explains:
"Honestly, in this election, Romneycare is [Mitt Romney's] tramp stamp."
While crude, this is a reasonable point. Polling on conservative voters has overwhelmingly shown that past endorsement of an individual mandate-based healthcare reform plan is essentially apostasy. (Although, Romney is not alone in past support of a mandate.) Next, she breaks the core of her argument into two pieces. First:
I mean, at a Constitutional level, Obamacare’s federally-enforced individual mandate destroys Congress’s limitations on regulating interstate commerce since it regulates economic inactivity. (emphasis mine - JMG)
Furthermore, even if it were constitutional, AHCA is not a necessary and proper means for Congress to expand its police powers(which the Court has in the past expressly forbade them from doing)! (emphasis mine - JMG)
Both of these arguments are as well traveled as they are flawed. The first is easily the most popular conservative argument against an individual mandate in general, and the Affordable Care Act specifically. So, it is unfortunate popularity cannot replace coherence; "inactivity" in the health insurance market produces substantially different outcomes than "inactivity" in say, the mobile phone market, or unappealing vegetables market. Or, as DC Appeals Court Justice Laurence Silberman wrote in the Court's November 8th 2-1 ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the law:
It suffices for this case to recognize, as noted earlier, that the health insurance market is a rather unique one, both because virtually everyone will enter or affect it, and because the uninsured inflict a disproportionate harm on the rest of the market as a result of their later consumption of health care services.
The second point on the expansion of "police powers" genuinely confuses me. The law's Wikipedia article has no mention of "police power", nor does the Kaiser Family Foundation's summary. The law itself has the word "police" in it only twice; once one page 724, defining law enforcement terminology and again on page 852, with respect to intervention services. I suspect "Galatea" is referring to the obvious expansion in oversight required to properly enforce a mandate on health insurance purchase. If so, then she is genuinely confused about how the mandate works; it is enforced through a fine. Specifically, as Ezra Klein explained back in March last year:
The law specifically says that no criminal action or liens can be imposed on people who don't pay the fine. If this actually leads to a world in which large numbers of people don't buy insurance and tell the IRS to stuff it, you could see that change. But for now, the penalties are low and the enforcement is non-existent.
Lastly, "Galatea" "thanks" Romney, writing that her coverage under her mother's health insurance "was the best free health care I’ve ever received." Only, it is not free; it is paid for by her mother, her mother's employer and her mother's co-workers. One can only imagine her plight if she did not have the fortune of these people covering her health insurance costs. Perhaps she would no longer have the free time to write terribly misinformed articles.

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