Ornery.org
  Front Page   |   About Ornery.org   |   World Watch   |   Guest Essays   |   Contact Us

The Ornery American Forum Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » The Private Insurance Mandate and the Commerce Clause (Page 1)

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!   This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2   
Author Topic: The Private Insurance Mandate and the Commerce Clause
Paladine
Member
Member # 1932

 - posted      Profile for Paladine   Email Paladine   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Even more than the public option, the facet of "healthcare reform" under debate that really terrifies me is the private insurance mandate. On another thread, a poster whose name eludes me asked how this could possibly be constitutional. While no satisfactory answer was provided him, the rationale which will most likely be used to defend this legislation should it pass will be an expansive interpretation of the Commerce Clause.

For those of you who might not be too familiar with the Constitution, Article I (the part that essentially constitutes the legislative branch) gives Congress power to regulate interstate commerce in Section 8, Clause 3, specifically by saying that it shall be empowered to

quote:
To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;
It furthermore says (in a later clause) that:

quote:
The Congress shall have Power - To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
Taken together, these have been interpreted to mean that Congress has power not only to regulate commercial activity going across state lines, but also to regulate those things happening within states which substantially impact interstate commerce. This interpretation has become gradually more expansive over time, until the recent Lopez and Morrison cases, where it was stopped just short of total insanity.

Unfortunately, now there are a great many who would like to push it over the precipice. Their argument runs something like this: People deciding whether or not to buy healthcare insurance has a substantial aggregate impact upon interstate commerce. Regulating interstate commerce and activities which substantially impact it is, according to relevant precedent, a legitimate exercise of Congressional power. Consequently, Congress has the legal authority to compel you to purchase healthcare insurance.

To people who subscribe to arguments like this and who would give Congress this power, my only real question is this. Would not virtually every human behavior, should we grant Congress the powers your interpretation would give them, fall under the purview of the Commerce Clause? If my deciding not to buy insurance impacts interstate commerce, then surely my decision as to whether to work and where and for how long and for what pay must have a much greater impact, and thus be subject to similar regulation. If my decision as to whether or not to buy insurance causes an impact on interstate commerce, my decision as to whether to buy a house or a car or what food to eat and what clothes to wear must also have such an impact.

And that's the real problem here. People who support this legislation, at the end of the day, are supporting an interpretation of our Constitution that removes what little structural limitation remains on the power of our government to regulate and legislate every facet of our lives. Once you take that away, all that's left to stop them from passing laws and controlling every one of those behaviors I mentioned and more is their conscience, together with their sense of decency and prudence.

I don't think many people are aware right now that we're standing at the edge of a Constitutional cliff, and that if we take one step farther we're going to take a fall from which we might not be able to get up. I don't think many people are aware that we're one step away from essentially legalizing totalitarianism in this country.

[ December 21, 2009, 01:09 PM: Message edited by: Paladine ]

Posts: 3235 | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
whitefire
Member
Member # 6505

 - posted      Profile for whitefire   Email whitefire       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The jump from::
quote:
People deciding whether or not to buy healthcare insurance has a substantial aggregate impact upon interstate commerce.
To:
quote:
Consequently, Congress has the legal authority to compel you to purchase healthcare insurance.
is insane. I could see that they could tax it, or enforce certain standards.
To me there is a link missing in this logic, and I have yet to hear someone address it. You could just as easily say that the purchase of a new car substantially effects interstate commerce, so everyone must buy one - and American made one at that!
The best argument I've heard for HC reform is that it is a right left out of the Bill of Rights. If that's you're argument, lobby for a Constitutional Amendment - you can't legislate new "rights," we already have a well established, constitutional process for enumerating what they are.

Posts: 97 | Registered: Sep 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
cherrypoptart
Member
Member # 3942

 - posted      Profile for cherrypoptart     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The only thing I've heard is that it's justified because it's NECESSARY. The only way they think healthcare reform will work is if everyone is required to purchase it, especially the largely healthy people who choose not to have it because they don't think they need it who now have to buy what they probably don't need to pay for the people who do need it. So basically, necessity is the mother of legality and Constitutionality.

This reminds me of the military a bit now with how far reaching the personal impact will be into our everyday lives. We can all look forward to getting drug tested and getting all kinds of other testing done, perhaps even on a regular basis now just like in the military. Everyone is paying for our healthcare now so everyone is going to think, perhaps more and more correctly, that our personal health is now their personal business.

I wonder what the procedure is going to be in acquiring new health insurance for people who didn't have health insurance before but can afford it. In my experience with the military it's going to be a pain in the butt, figuratively in time and money as well as literally with what's probably going to be mandatory testing such as rectal exams. As America gets bent over, I can hear the outcry in chorus, "Thanks Obama!"

... accomapanied by mutterings mumbled which would get one arrested if heard aloud.

Posts: 7675 | Registered: Mar 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Gaoics79
Member
Member # 969

 - posted      Profile for Gaoics79   Email Gaoics79   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
I don't think many people are aware right now that we're standing at the edge of a Constitutional cliff, and that if we take one step farther we're going to take a fall from which we might not be able to get up. I don't think many people are aware that we're one step away from essentially legalizing totalitarianism in this country.
You should know by now that for most people, even among the educated and normally thoughtful, the constitution long ago ceased to mean what was plainly written on its pages. People will read the constitution to mean whatever they want it to mean. If you like a certain interpretation, the words become as fluid and flexible as the ocean itself; if you don't like a certain interpretation, the words narrow to the point of a pin.

Constitutional interpretation is, sadly, as binary as the two political movements that now struggle over it in an endless tug of war.

To put it simply: we all walked off that particular cliff about a million years ago. It's too late to get back up.

Posts: 7629 | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
whitefire
Member
Member # 6505

 - posted      Profile for whitefire   Email whitefire       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Jason - you might be right, but are we beyond the point where it means anything anymore? I mean, this mandate seems, by the logic provided, beyond that of the commerce clause.
I have heard folks say things to the effect of, "we're going to do this, and let Constitutional Scholars explain how its justified." Meaning either a. they don't know or care how to justify a specific act, or b. that they are just paying lip service to the document.
Either way its not even a full step removed from saying the Government can and will do anything it wills, isn't it?

[ December 21, 2009, 02:06 PM: Message edited by: whitefire ]

Posts: 97 | Registered: Sep 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Pyrtolin
Member
Member # 2638

 - posted      Profile for Pyrtolin   Email Pyrtolin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
There's a much simpler way to justify it- Congress has the power to impose taxes, so it can impose this tax to support health care. But it can set terms under which that ax may be waived, such as the purchase of health care.

Also keep in mind that the states have some control over whether or not the mandate and many other parts of the bill apply to them. If they implement an equal or better system they can ditch that mandate and take the subsidy revenues directly to fund their program instead.

Massachusetts, for example won't have to really do anything (a weak example, given that it already successfully uses the same basic system being put together here). But other states that want to try something different will be able to pick how they want to do it as well, so the door is wide open for better solutions.

Posts: 11997 | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
whitefire
Member
Member # 6505

 - posted      Profile for whitefire   Email whitefire       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
So Congress could enact a tax on automobiles, but waive it for the vehicles built by the (former) big 3?
By your logic it could be done, right? Heck your MA example would be like saying MI already has a version this auto tax law so they wouldn't have to do anything!
The Constitution at least pretends to say congressional acts ought be "necessary and proper."
For me you need to show not just that you can do something, but that it is proper.

Posts: 97 | Registered: Sep 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Paladine
Member
Member # 1932

 - posted      Profile for Paladine   Email Paladine   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
There's a much simpler way to justify it- Congress has the power to impose taxes, so it can impose this tax to support health care. But it can set terms under which that ax may be waived, such as the purchase of health care.
First off, that's not what's being done here. It's applying a penalty to people who don't buy healthcare and throwing them in jail if they don't pay the penalty. Second off, the power to tax doesn't mean or imply the power to tax "to support healthcare". Thirdly, you've failed to address my point. Think about it.

Under your reading of Congress' power to tax, they could effectively Constitutionally dictate how I spend every dime I have through a confiscatory series of taxes and penalties for not spending it in the ways they'd prefer. If that's not depriving me of my property without due process, I have no earthly idea what is.

Posts: 3235 | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Pyrtolin
Member
Member # 2638

 - posted      Profile for Pyrtolin   Email Pyrtolin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
"So Congress could enact a tax on automobiles, but waive it for the vehicles built by the (former) big 3? "

It creates loopholes like that all the time, yes. Just look at the recent attempt to give Citibank a special exemption from certain taxes; directed tax breaks are all over the place.

Heck, that's what tariffs are, in the most basic sense.

"By your logic it could be done, right? Heck your MA example would be like saying MI already has a version this auto tax law so they wouldn't have to do anything!"

If that was the explicit text of the law, as it is with the healthcare bill, sure. And that should be the case more often, since it gives a lot more power back to the states to manage themselves.

"For me you need to show not just that you can do something, but that it is proper."

Universal access to health coverage is fundamentally necessary infrastructure. Using it power to tax, both to provide funding and to provide economic incentive toward responsible behavior are proper ways for Congress to accomplish its goals.

Posts: 11997 | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Pyrtolin
Member
Member # 2638

 - posted      Profile for Pyrtolin   Email Pyrtolin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Paladine:
First off, that's not what's being done here. It's applying a penalty to people who don't buy healthcare and throwing them in jail if they don't pay the penalty. Second off, the power to tax doesn't mean or imply the power to tax "to support healthcare". Thirdly, you've failed to address my point. Think about it.

1) That's a semantic quibble. The penalty is assessed as part of their taxes unless they show proof of insurance, and said imprisonment is likewise only applicable where it would likewise occur for tax evasion, not a specific consequence of not paying the amount itself.

2) It has been established that congress can tax to support national infrastructure and it is specifically empowered t do so to protect the general welfare. Health easily falls into both of these categories.

3) My response was that asserting the commerce clause as the sole justification here is a red herring. This does not require any power that has not been long established as in the scope of the federal government and it even contains the ability of states to exempt themselves from it.

quote:
Under your reading of Congress' power to tax, they could effectively Constitutionally dictate how I spend every dime I have through a confiscatory series of taxes and penalties for not spending it in the ways they'd prefer. If that's not depriving me of my property without due process, I have no earthly idea what is.
No that's explicitly applying due process to do it. And again, that's a horse that's long been out of the barn; it's at the heart of any protectionist or sin tax and is already all over the legal code.
Posts: 11997 | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Paladine
Member
Member # 1932

 - posted      Profile for Paladine   Email Paladine   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
1) That's a semantic quibble. The penalty is assessed as part of their taxes unless they show proof of insurance, and said imprisonment is likewise only applicable where it would likewise occur for tax evasion, not a specific consequence of not paying the amount itself.
No, it's not a semantic quibble. Effectively what they're doing in your case is making failure to buy insurance a crime and setting the penalty at X dollar amount. That's a fundamentally different thing than a tax, and if we start using the two ideas interchangably then we set the table for some ugly things to happen.

quote:
2) It has been established that congress can tax to support national infrastructure and it is specifically empowered t do so to protect the general welfare. Health easily falls into both of these categories.
So you think that they can make any law which they consider to be in furtherance of the general welfare? Again, if they meant anything nearly so infinitely capacious, what the hell was the point of enumerating any powers at all besides that one? You're essentially arguing that there's pretty much *nothing* government can't do, with the possible exception of some provisions of the Bill of Rights (but not all of them certainly, since my right to property evidently no longer exists).

quote:
No that's explicitly applying due process to do it. And again, that's a horse that's long been out of the barn; it's at the heart of any protectionist or sin tax and is already all over the legal code.
This is an obtuse equivocation. There's a difference between putting a tax on a good or service on the one hand and demanding that you purchase a good or service and exacting a pecuniary punishment for failing to do so on the other. There's a fundamental and important difference between taxing an activity and taxing the failure to perform an activity. You really don't see the difference?

Edited to Add:

And please answer this directly. According to your reasoning, could not Congress, in complete accordance with the Constitution, tell me how I was legally compelled to spend every dime I make? Couldn't it legally compel me to buy a certain kind of house and to buy and drive a certain kind of car, to eat at a proscribed restaraunt? Failure to do any of these things would then result in a confiscatory penalty which would land me in the slammer if I can't or won't pay it. This is constitutional to you, right?

[ December 21, 2009, 04:43 PM: Message edited by: Paladine ]

Posts: 3235 | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TCB
Member
Member # 1677

 - posted      Profile for TCB         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The Supreme Court ruled Social Security constitutional under the so-called "General Welfare Clause" of Article 1, Section 8 - "The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States". They ruled that because poverty in old age was a problem affecting the general welfare of the nation, Congress could impose a national tax to address it.

Enough parallels between SS and health care exist - SS can be thought of as old age insurace - that you can apply the same reasoning to the insurance mandate.

Interestingly, if you accept the constitutionality of Social Security but object to the government mandating private insurance, you're left with a public option or nothing.

Posts: 824 | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Pyrtolin
Member
Member # 2638

 - posted      Profile for Pyrtolin   Email Pyrtolin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Paladine:
quote:
1) That's a semantic quibble. The penalty is assessed as part of their taxes unless they show proof of insurance, and said imprisonment is likewise only applicable where it would likewise occur for tax evasion, not a specific consequence of not paying the amount itself.
No, it's not a semantic quibble. Effectively what they're doing in your case is making failure to buy insurance a crime and setting the penalty at X dollar amount. That's a fundamentally different thing than a tax, and if we start using the two ideas interchangably then we set the table for some ugly things to happen.


Just like it's a "crime" to fail to pay for the military, public schools, public roads, police and fire departments, etc...

quote:
So you think that they can make any law which they consider to be in furtherance of the general welfare? Again, if they meant anything nearly so infinitely capacious, what the hell was the point of enumerating any powers at all besides that one? You're essentially arguing that there's pretty much *nothing* government can't do, with the possible exception of some provisions of the Bill of Rights (but not all of them certainly, since my right to property evidently no longer exists).


The point was to clearly assign responsibility for the exercise of such powers and to place explicit limits on the fields of authority of each branch. By your reasoning we should not have any civil, corporate, or contract law either, since there's no mention of powers over those in the Constitution. If it's not specifically prohibited or assigned, the first and last clauses of the powers of Congress pretty much spell that out.

Granting power to actually govern was part of the point of writing it (and sending Jefferson to Europe first so that he couldn't try to handicap it) Weak central government had failed completely, so a strong one was implemented.

quote:
This is an obtuse equivocation. There's a difference between putting a tax on a good or service on the one hand and demanding that you purchase a good or service and exacting a pecuniary punishment for failing to do so on the other. There's a fundamental and important difference between taxing an activity and taxing the failure to perform an activity. You really don't see the difference?
Sure there's a difference, but that doesn't change the fact that such tax penalties are nothing new and well established as perfectly allowable policy instruments.

quote:
And please answer this directly. According to your reasoning, could not Congress, in complete accordance with the Constitution, tell me how I was legally compelled to spend every dime I make? Couldn't it legally compel me to buy a certain kind of house and to buy and drive a certain kind of car, to eat at a proscribed restaraunt? Failure to do any of these things would then result in a confiscatory penalty which would land me in the slammer if I can't or won't pay it. This is constitutional to you, right?
Leaving aside that improper tax payment generally tends to rack up fines and very seldom leads to actual imprisonment, there still exist the courts to rule on whether such legislation actually serves the public welfare and the voters to exercise their role in keeping an active check on Congress's exercise of its power.

But then, again, you also have many other public infrastructure groups who have essentially already been restricted in such a way; only one police system in any given area, only one armed forces, only one set of court system, so it's fully acceptable to limit choice in just such a way if it does truly offer a better overall benefit.

[ December 21, 2009, 10:17 PM: Message edited by: Pyrtolin ]

Posts: 11997 | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Viking_Longship
Member
Member # 3358

 - posted      Profile for Viking_Longship   Email Viking_Longship       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
I don't think many people are aware right now that we're standing at the edge of a Constitutional cliff, and that if we take one step farther we're going to take a fall from which we might not be able to get up. I don't think many people are aware that we're one step away from essentially legalizing totalitarianism in this country.

We went over that cliff under Lincoln. Lincoln decided during the civil war he could do away with the bill of rights during the war. The interesting thing is that it got restored post war.

Even if that were not the case the Patriot act would have pushed us off the cliff.

Or heck maybe the alien and sedition act under Adams.

I don't like the mandate either, but let's keep it in perspective. We've gone over the cliff before, and usually managed to scramble back up to the top.

Posts: 5765 | Registered: Dec 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Adam Masterman
Member
Member # 1142

 - posted      Profile for Adam Masterman   Email Adam Masterman   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
And please answer this directly. According to your reasoning, could not Congress, in complete accordance with the Constitution, tell me how I was legally compelled to spend every dime I make? Couldn't it legally compel me to buy a certain kind of house and to buy and drive a certain kind of car, to eat at a proscribed restaraunt? Failure to do any of these things would then result in a confiscatory penalty which would land me in the slammer if I can't or won't pay it. This is constitutional to you, right?
Yes, its constitutional. I'm surprised that you imagine the constitution to be a document without flaws, as such a thing does not exist. But yes, congress can impose a tax, and imprison someone who refuses to pay it. Henry David Thoreau was jailed for exactly this reason, and over an issue of far more import than those you listed.

Adam

Posts: 4823 | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
cherrypoptart
Member
Member # 3942

 - posted      Profile for cherrypoptart     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
This isn't a tax though. This is saying that you must buy private insurance from a private health insurance company. Big difference.

And not doing so is against the law, so saying you don't have to buy it, you just pay a fine doesn't cut it. You are breaking the law.

That might not mean much to some people, but many Americans like to try to live their lives without breaking the law. Now in order to do so we have to buy something we don't want from people we don't trust, and for good reasons as even President Obama has articulated.

Posts: 7675 | Registered: Mar 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Pyrtolin
Member
Member # 2638

 - posted      Profile for Pyrtolin   Email Pyrtolin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Cherry- can you even remotely support your assertion there? The mandate is a tax penalty, not a criminal offense. It's perfectly legal to not buy insurance, you just pay more in taxes if you choose not to, to compensate for the cost of ensuring that you have access to the health care system in the future should you need it.
Posts: 11997 | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dave at Work
Member
Member # 1906

 - posted      Profile for Dave at Work   Email Dave at Work   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
No, the mandate is that you are responsible for making sure you have qualifying insurance and if you fail to do so you must pay a fine, which the IRS will collect. It is not a tax, it is a fine being called a tax.
Posts: 1928 | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
cherrypoptart
Member
Member # 3942

 - posted      Profile for cherrypoptart     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
> Pyrtolin

> Cherry- can you even remotely support your assertion there?

Well, is it against the law to not buy the insurance or not?

I don't see it as a tax penalty so much as a fine for breaking the law. And even if it is a tax penalty, that still means that you broke the law.

It may seem like a small difference to some people but it's a pretty big deal to me and a lot of others.

As I've said before, my preference if there absolutely must be a mandate (which I think is unConstitutional, being against states' rights among other reasons), then there should be an option to buy into the same healthcare system Congress and federal employees get, a public option.

> you just pay more in taxes if you choose not to, to compensate for the cost of ensuring that you have access to the health care system in the future should you need it.

This seems inaccurate to me because you aren't paying more and then getting entitled to anything. You pay a fine and get nothing for it. It's a punishment for breaking the law.

I agree with Dave. I don't mind paying taxes as much as I do paying fines. One makes you a proud American and the other means you are a scofflaw.

Posts: 7675 | Registered: Mar 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Greg Davidson
Member
Member # 3377

 - posted      Profile for Greg Davidson   Email Greg Davidson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
This is a legitimate point. Most every Congressional action is assembled around the authority provided in the commerce clause and the power over federal taxation. And the interpretation of those powers from the Constitution to policies is non-straight-forward and is often convoluted.

That's how the government of the United States has operated at least since the late 1800's when the Supreme Court ruled on a commerce clause case involving elevator operators (who clearly did not leave their building, let alone travel interstate).


I do disagree that it's getting worse with HCR, and I disagree with the importance of this as an issue (if America feels like it has inadequate freedom because of this set of precedents, which is the country in which you would feel free?). But I do agree it is a legitimate issue.

Gotta go to work - bicycling today because with kids back from college we have three cars and four drivers

Posts: 4178 | Registered: Dec 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JWatts
Member
Member # 6523

 - posted      Profile for JWatts   Email JWatts   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave at Work:
No, the mandate is that you are responsible for making sure you have qualifying insurance and if you fail to do so you must pay a fine, which the IRS will collect. It is not a tax, it is a fine being called a tax.

The US Commerce clause was stretched to the point of absurdity by President Roosevelt, so really that horse left the barn long ago.

As to the fine versus tax, I'm pretty sure that all of the money the US EPA collects is in the form of fines, so this is all well established with plenty of prior examples.


On a side note, I have a very good friend that owned a company which was involved in demolishing a factory complex in Morristown, TN so the site could be re-used. The complex was old and the buildings used asbestos extensively. His company started work on the site in 2006.

He, personally, went through an asbestos removal training school. Closely supervised the asbestos removal. Had the TN state EPA (TDEC) check on the removal and storage. They approved and signed off on everything that happened.

The US EPA got wind of the operation, drove up from Atlanta, and immediately filed a work injunction, while they investigated the issue for 6 months. They informed my friend that they were the EPA and that what TDEC signed off on wasn't relevant (state rights?).

Within 4 months, his company was bankrupt, since the work injunction effectively shut the whole site down even though all the asbestos had been removed from the buildings before the EPA showed up and there was no point to the injunction.(petulant bureaucrats?)

After 6 months and numerous hearings, depositions and legal fees, the US EPA concluded that his company had done everything right and they could go back to work now. Of course the entire operation was completely bankrupt and the bank had already acted to repossess the assets.

George Orwell envisioned democracy dieing by a slice of the sword, but I think it will more like death by a thousand paper cuts inflicted by a zombie swarm of bureaucrats.

[ December 22, 2009, 11:06 AM: Message edited by: JWatts ]

Posts: 4700 | Registered: Oct 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dave at Work
Member
Member # 1906

 - posted      Profile for Dave at Work   Email Dave at Work   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hey, I just want people to call it what it is. The way I understand that it will work is as a fine. If they choose to give some kind of one size fits none insurance in return for the fine, then call it a fee. I see no way to call it a tax.
Posts: 1928 | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Pyrtolin
Member
Member # 2638

 - posted      Profile for Pyrtolin   Email Pyrtolin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by cherrypoptart:
Well, is it against the law to not buy the insurance or not?

It is not against the law. There are no criminal or civil charges for not doing so. No legal action can be take against a person for not buying insurance.

quote:
I don't see it as a tax penalty so much as a fine for breaking the law. And even if it is a tax penalty, that still means that you broke the law.
Whatever your personal opinion might be, there is not law broken, no judge assigning fines. It's all done within the tax code.

quote:
It may seem like a small difference to some people but it's a pretty big deal to me and a lot of others.
I agree that there's a significant difference, which is why it's disingenuous to try to paint it as a crime when nothing is making it such.

quote:
As I've said before, my preference if there absolutely must be a mandate (which I think is unConstitutional, being against states' rights among other reasons), then there should be an option to buy into the same healthcare system Congress and federal employees get, a public option.
The states are given the ability to opt out of it by implementing some other system, and will even be given direct federal funding if they choose that path.

quote:
This seems inaccurate to me because you aren't paying more and then getting entitled to anything. You pay a fine and get nothing for it. It's a punishment for breaking the law.
You are getting two things: the ability to buy insurance at any point in the future if you require it, and the ability to walk into any ER and be treated regardless of immediate ability to pay. (Yes, we've had that second one for a while, but up till now, it's been an unfunded mandate- implemented at the expense of the hospitals rather than having a system in place to help offset the costs of such a requirement.)
Posts: 11997 | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Pyrtolin
Member
Member # 2638

 - posted      Profile for Pyrtolin   Email Pyrtolin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Dave at Work:
No, the mandate is that you are responsible for making sure you have qualifying insurance and if you fail to do so you must pay a fine, which the IRS will collect. It is not a tax, it is a fine being called a tax.

Fines require court involvement. This has nothing to do with the courts.
Posts: 11997 | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JWatts
Member
Member # 6523

 - posted      Profile for JWatts   Email JWatts   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Originally posted by Dave at Work:
No, the mandate is that you are responsible for making sure you have qualifying insurance and if you fail to do so you must pay a fine, which the IRS will collect. It is not a tax, it is a fine being called a tax.

Fines require court involvement. This has nothing to do with the courts.
Of course it will involve the courts. The courts will act to enforce the law for anyone refusing to pay the fines.

I agree with you that the fines are legal, but it's patently wrong to say it won't involve the courts. And these are obviously fines, indeed it is not even being called a tax anywhere that I've read.

quote:
All but the smallest employers would face fines of as much as $750 per worker
Washington Post

quote:
Those who are obligated to buy coverage and refuse to do so would pay a fine starting at $95 in 2014 and rising to $750.
NY Times

[ December 22, 2009, 11:16 AM: Message edited by: JWatts ]

Posts: 4700 | Registered: Oct 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
edgmatt
Member
Member # 6449

 - posted      Profile for edgmatt   Email edgmatt       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Why aren't the poor being outraged by this? If I was making 15,000/year, barely scrapping by, and now I am forced to buy health insurance,where will I get the money? If I could have afforded it before, I would have gotten it. I am going to have a choice of going bankrupt or going to jail.
Posts: 1439 | Registered: Apr 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JWatts
Member
Member # 6523

 - posted      Profile for JWatts   Email JWatts   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by edgmatt:
Why aren't the poor being outraged by this? If I was making 15,000/year, barely scrapping by, and now I am forced to buy health insurance,where will I get the money? If I could have afforded it before, I would have gotten it. I am going to have a choice of going bankrupt or going to jail.

Short Answer: Very generous subsidies. Anyone anywhere with-in site of the poverty line will have nearly all of their costs paid.

Subsidies are in effect all the way up to 400% of the Federal poverty level.

Link

quote:
Under the Senate plan, with subsidies, premiums for a family of four at 133 percent of poverty would be a maximum of $821.14, while premiums for a family making the highest amount eligible would be a maximum of $8,643.60.
So a family of 4 at the 133% mark pays only $70 per month, considerably less than they would currently pay on cigarettes per month if even one of them smokes.

CNN

This will be paid by cuts to Medicare ($483 billion every decade), a 20% cut to Doctors reimbursements ($240 billion every decade) and higher taxes, a 40% tax increase on "Cadillac" health insurance plans and, I kid you not, a 10% tax on tanning salons [Roll Eyes]

Of course, there is not a snow ball's chance in hell of the Medicare cuts or the Doctor's reimbursement cuts lasting more than a year or two.

Posts: 4700 | Registered: Oct 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
edgmatt
Member
Member # 6449

 - posted      Profile for edgmatt   Email edgmatt       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
[Crying] x's 100
Posts: 1439 | Registered: Apr 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Pyrtolin
Member
Member # 2638

 - posted      Profile for Pyrtolin   Email Pyrtolin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Originally posted by Dave at Work:
No, the mandate is that you are responsible for making sure you have qualifying insurance and if you fail to do so you must pay a fine, which the IRS will collect. It is not a tax, it is a fine being called a tax.

Fines require court involvement. This has nothing to do with the courts.
Of course it will involve the courts. The courts will act to enforce the law for anyone refusing to pay the fines.

I agree with you that the fines are legal, but it's patently wrong to say it won't involve the courts. And these are obviously fines, indeed it is not even being called a tax anywhere that I've read.



Issuing them won't involve the courts any more than the IRS issuing any other tax penalty involves the courts.

Of course enforcing the tax code after the fact involves the courts, but that's tangential. No one is going to be taken to court and fined for not getting health insurance. It's not a criminal violation of any sort. It's not a crime.

Posts: 11997 | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Pyrtolin
Member
Member # 2638

 - posted      Profile for Pyrtolin   Email Pyrtolin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by edgmatt:
Why aren't the poor being outraged by this? If I was making 15,000/year, barely scrapping by, and now I am forced to buy health insurance,where will I get the money? If I could have afforded it before, I would have gotten it. I am going to have a choice of going bankrupt or going to jail.

If you're somehow not eligible for Medicare/Medicaid at that level, you're well within subsidy range. And that would include subsidies toward copays, deductibles, and the like as well.

That's where most of the cost of the bill comes in, and half the point as well; if you want a market based solution, you have to do something to support those people who can't otherwise afford to be consumers in the market.

Posts: 11997 | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Pyrtolin
Member
Member # 2638

 - posted      Profile for Pyrtolin   Email Pyrtolin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
This will be paid by cuts to Medicare ($483 billion every decade), a 20% cut to Doctors reimbursements ($240 billion every decade) and higher taxes, a 40% tax increase on "Cadillac" health insurance plans and, I kid you not, a 10% tax on tanning salons

The Medicare cuts are specifically ending the Medicare Advantage funding which has done absolutely nothing to provide more affordable care; insurers take them money as a windfall and still charge full rates to their customers for whatever services that they nominally offer under the plan.

There will also be implicit Medicare saving here over time as the people that transition to it will be in better health, and thus less costly to support.

The tanning tax seems a bit random, though I can see some logic, since it translates to higher expected skin cancer costs in the future. It was originally a cosmetic surgery tax, but that fell by the wayside because of arguments about how to determine what was or was not necessary.

Posts: 11997 | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Pyrtolin
Member
Member # 2638

 - posted      Profile for Pyrtolin   Email Pyrtolin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Originally posted by edgmatt:
Why aren't the poor being outraged by this? If I was making 15,000/year, barely scrapping by, and now I am forced to buy health insurance,where will I get the money? If I could have afforded it before, I would have gotten it. I am going to have a choice of going bankrupt or going to jail.

If you're somehow not eligible for Medicare/Medicaid at that level, you're well within subsidy range. And that would include subsidies toward copays, deductibles, and the like as well.

That's where most of the cost of the bill comes in, and half the point as well; if you want a market based solution, you have to do something to support those people who can't otherwise afford to be consumers in the market.

Additionally, there are hardship waivers if you're still in a grey area there for some reason.
Posts: 11997 | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Pyrtolin
Member
Member # 2638

 - posted      Profile for Pyrtolin   Email Pyrtolin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
quote:
All but the smallest employers would face fines of as much as $750 per worker
Washington Post

quote:
Those who are obligated to buy coverage and refuse to do so would pay a fine starting at $95 in 2014 and rising to $750.
NY Times

It's convenient to refer to it as a fine, but the only solid source for how it's legally defined is the working in the bill. Every indication I've seen is that it's officially a tax penalty, which is to say, an additional amount owed on your taxes. It's not legally defined as a fee or a fine, and definitely not as a legal violation of some sort.
Posts: 11997 | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
edgmatt
Member
Member # 6449

 - posted      Profile for edgmatt   Email edgmatt       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Then why are you jailed for not buying insurance?
Posts: 1439 | Registered: Apr 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Pyrtolin
Member
Member # 2638

 - posted      Profile for Pyrtolin   Email Pyrtolin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by edgmatt:
Then why are you jailed for not buying insurance?

You're not. That's pure misinformation.

Some people are jailed for not paying taxes, but generally only large scale offenders.

[ December 22, 2009, 02:53 PM: Message edited by: Pyrtolin ]

Posts: 11997 | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
KidB
Member
Member # 3016

 - posted      Profile for KidB   Email KidB   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I am against mandated purchase of health insurance, whether at the state or federal level. It's just a gift to the industry, fundamentally unfair to the consumer.

If the government wants to cover everyone it should do so itself. An expanion of Medicaire/Medicaid is what's called for -- not the current plan.

That being said, I find this griping about the abuse of the commerce clause to be a little silly.

quote:
Would not virtually every human behavior, should we grant Congress the powers your interpretation would give them, fall under the purview of the Commerce Clause?
Yes, it would, because the economy of the 21st century is completely unlike the 18th. It applies to virtually every aspect of human behavior now because that is how our economy functions in the technological, globalized era - the legal system barely even keeps up.

I don't have constitutional issues with this health care bill. I just think it's a bad idea.

Posts: 1960 | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Pyrtolin
Member
Member # 2638

 - posted      Profile for Pyrtolin   Email Pyrtolin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by KidB:
If the government wants to cover everyone it should do so itself. An expanion of Medicaire/Medicaid is what's called for -- not the current plan.

Medicaid is expanded under the current plan. And the OPM will be negotiating national non-profit plans, which are at least a step in the right direction.

The bill will also require insurance companies put at least 85% of their revenue into actual health care costs rather than bleeding as much as it can off into administrative costs, compensation, and profits. Again, steps in the right direction.

I fully agree that the best solution would be expanding Medicare to full coverage, but look how hard it was to get this market based solution through. At least it opens the door to better improvements later (especially by allowing the states to try their own systems instead) not getting this much done would have shut down any further hope of reform for at least a decade, and probably ensured that anything that was attempted then was even more conservative.

Posts: 11997 | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
KidB
Member
Member # 3016

 - posted      Profile for KidB   Email KidB   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm glad to hear that Py. You clearly know more about the plan than I do (I long ago grew tired of following every permutation). If the plan leaves room for more reform later on, then that's a good thing. The fact that the mandated (or coerced) purchase is also met with substantial regulation of the industry as well does bring back some of the reciprocity that I feared was missing. I just hope it's enough.
Posts: 1960 | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
cherrypoptart
Member
Member # 3942

 - posted      Profile for cherrypoptart     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
There was a big ta-do previously about the late fees with video rentals. So that all went bye-bye, and that was good. Instead of late fees, you just paid to rent the video again. Cool.

So is that all this is for the mandate then? You don't get the mandated health insurance and you just pay something like a fee?

They should get with their marketing department then and sell it like that.

But if it's no big deal, couldn't you just pay the fee instead of getting health insurance?

Then since insurance companies can't deny you for pre-existing conditions, why couldn't you just pay the fee and then get the insurance coverage when and if you ever need it?

I could actually see that being very cost-effective for me.

Does anyone really expect it to be that easy?

I could also see some official considering that to be willfully gaming the system and sending the people who tried it to jail.

Posts: 7675 | Registered: Mar 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Pyrtolin
Member
Member # 2638

 - posted      Profile for Pyrtolin   Email Pyrtolin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
But if it's no big deal, couldn't you just pay the fee instead of getting health insurance?

Then since insurance companies can't deny you for pre-existing conditions, why couldn't you just pay the fee and then get the insurance coverage when and if you ever need it?

I could actually see that being very cost-effective for me.

Does anyone really expect it to be that easy?

It _is_ that easy because that is the entire point. The fee is there as a way to hold the door open for you if you do decide to forgo insurance until after you're diagnosed with something that would require it.

In the most basic sense it's a government provided catastrophic coverage plan that allows to to seek insurance after the fact and allows you to have access to hospitals without cash up front.

Posts: 11997 | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
  This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Ornery.org Front Page

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.1