The continued (moral) fight over Obamacare

Photo: Caremate

In the wake of the recent presidential election, the political left would like the fight over Obamacare to be over. But the same electorate that gave President Obama a second term believes by a near-majority (49-44) that Obamacare should be “fully or partially repealed.” Additionally, consistent public opinion polling on the issue over the last two years has found that the law has never really been popular. Such polling has further suggested that since the law’s passage, and as it has been slowly but steadily implemented, it has grown even less popular.

Conservatives should take heart. Even with victories for the law in the U.S. Supreme Court (partial victories, anyway) and the 2012 presidential elections, the fight over Obamacare rages on in the courts, and opportunities to stop such terrible health care policy from harming families with costlier, lower-quality healthcare will continue to arise for states. Both of these avenues should be pursued. For conservatives that claim a moral compass (i.e., they consider and desire the well-being of their fellow human beings), there is no other choice.

In the courts, for instance, there are more than three dozen lawsuits, representing more than 100 plaintiffs, moving forward to protect freedom of individuals to organize their lives (not just their worship services) according to their conscience and religious beliefs – a freedom that Obamacare assaults with insurance mandates on abortion-inducing drugs and contraception. And given the Supreme Court’s recent decision to revive a previously dismissed religious freedom lawsuit over the constitutionality of Obamacare, and the sheer number of such lawsuits throughout the country, it seems likely that the “Affordable Care Act” will end up (again) in the Supreme Court over its questionable restrictions of Americans’ freedom of conscience and religious expression.

Additionally, more constitutional challenges to the law continue to arise. The state of Oklahoma recently revised a lawsuit against the IRS for attempting to implement Obamacare regulations without authority from the law to do so. In other words, the law was written so poorly that the IRS felt the need to invent regulatory authority for itself to implement it – a rather constitutionally questionable decision. If this lawsuit succeeds, it could mean, in the words of one health policy expert, that “the whole structure created by the health care reform law starts to fall apart,” especially in states that chose not to partner with the federal government in creating an insurance exchange.

This leads to the opportunities for the states to oppose this poor health law. The first, as just mentioned, is the chance the states have to “just say no” when it comes to teaming up with the federal government to create and run a health insurance exchange, and preserve their flexibility to pursue wiser and better health care policy solutions by doing so. At least 17 states have chosen this prudent health care path, with more deciding to do so as time goes on.

Another opportunity afforded to states to oppose Obamacare is to exercise their right to “opt out” of the law’s proposed Medicaid expansion, without consequence for the state’s existing Medicaid program. Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court decision on the law, states have this option. A primary reason this would be the prudent, wise choice is because the federal government’s “commitment” to pay for almost all of the Medicaid expansion is unlikely to be kept, and the states that expand Medicaid will end up being left to foot the unpaid federal bill either by taking more money from working residents via tax hikes or taking away health care services from low-income and lower-middle-income families by cutting Medicaid spending.

In summary, despite the setback of the election and the disappointment it created on the right, conservatives should avoid being fooled by the left and their media allies that the Obamacare fight is now somehow over and settled. The general public doesn’t like it, and even the voters that re-elected President Obama do not like it. Further, there will continue to be multiple legal and state policy opportunities to save families from the dual harms of Obamacare: (1) higher health care costs that Obamacare mandates and taxes will create, and (2) lower-quality health care that will result from increasing demand for health care from the same number of doctors and hospitals. Despite any disappointment we may feel from recent political setbacks, attempting to prevent that needless injury to working families is the only moral thing for conservatives to do.

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