by nyceve

Mon Dec 13, 2010 at 02:19:08 PM PST

Judge Henry Hudson, appointed (naturally) by George W. Bush, ruled today that the individual mandate to purchase private, for-profit health insurance is unconstitutional.

From the New York Times.

A federal district judge in Virginia ruled on Monday that the keystone provision in the Obama health care law is unconstitutional, becoming the first court in the country to invalidate any part of the sprawling act and ensuring that appellate courts will receive contradictory opinions from below.

The individual mandate is the most critical piece of this legislation for the insurance industry — it is their jewel.

For you legal scholars, here’s the text of the opinion.

Anything that makes the insurance industry squirm — and forcing these  corporations to sell insurance to all comers without the depravity of the preexisting condition exclusion raising it’s ugly head — without the requirement or mandate that everyone purchase their overpriced junk products, is a good day for the American people.

That said, we are moving into deeply unsettled and un-chartered waters. In New York state we have a version of this (guaranteed issue and comunity rating) — the bastards must sell to everyone, and we have the highest rates in the country. We have the highest rates because a twenty-three year old in good health doesn’t want to pay the same premium as a diabetic sixty year old facing a quadruple bypass. In New York we are in the classic insurer death spiral.  Only the affluent and the sick can afford their price gouging, so the young and healthy are dropping their coverage resulting in premiums spiraling up and people losing their coverage.

It seems very evident that this decision will continue to be litigated and will go to the Bush packed Supreme Court.  If they too rule the individual mandate unconstitutional, we may be back to lowering the age for Medicare, or a robust public option. The only alternative to mandates, if we as a society intend to cover those with preexisting conditions, is a government pool — the public option.

Another alternative is a narrow open enrollment period. If you can only buy insurance on the Individual Market for 1 or 2 months a year, the ability of an insured to game the system and buy when ill is severely limited.

So, it’s individual mandate, or single payer, if guaranteed issue is the law of the Land in 2014, there is nothing in between.

As sure as night follows day, you can take it to the bank that publicaly the Republicans will claim this as a victory, but behind the scenes, where the deals get made, Boehner and Co. are telling the insurers not to worry, they will get their 30 million new victims customers, sans regulations. It’s the regulations that the Republicans and some Democrats will strip from the ACA.

In the meantime, we’re moving ahead with focus and determination to make single payer the law in California.

Keep your eye on California One Care.

And put on your fighting gear, the battle has just begun.


A very senior health policy analyst just sent me an email as follows.  Bottom line is folks, this is serious business.  If SCOTUS rules the individual mandate is unconstitutional, we may very well be back at square one.

I would be a hesitant to assume that no mandate means the requirements on the insurance industry in the Obama bill will live. Presume you saw this sentence, below, in the Times this morning. I sincerely doubt Obama or the Democrats will push the insurers to adhere without the individual mandate, and the court decision just means they have another excuse to continue to jack up rates and deny care.

The administration has said that if that provision eventually falls, related insurance reforms would necessarily collapse with it, most notably the ban on insurer exclusions of applicants with pre-existing health conditions.

Originally posted on the DailyKos. Re-posted with permission.