The Supreme Court on Thursday rescued Obamacare from a conservative attack for the second time in three years, prompting Justice Antonin Scalia to rename the law “ScotusCare.” He was just being puckish, as he often is in dissent, but he has a point: It’s time for opponents of the law to take responsibility for it – and that means working to improve it.
Ruling against the claim that Congress prohibited federal subsidies for people buying health insurance in states that haven’t established their own exchanges, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them.”
The case joins a long line of defeated arguments against the law: The so-called individual mandate requiring people to buy health insurance is unconstitutional (the court disagreed three years ago). The law will explode the deficit (the Congressional Budget Office reports the opposite is true). It will cause the economy to crash (not so far). It will cause insurance premiums to skyrocket (their growth has slowed). It will result in fewer employers offering coverage (the opposite has happened). It means more people will lose coverage than gain it (the opposite, again). Finally, they argued that people will hate their plans (most like them).
Rather than continue to search for ways to convince voters or the courts that Obamacare is fundamentally flawed or structurally deficient, members of Congress need to cooperate and address the law’s shortcomings – which are real but surmountable.
That means finding solutions for the millions of Americans who still can’t afford health insurance, but still don’t qualify for federal assistance. It also means putting realistic limits on deductibles, copays and other types of cost-sharing.