Sometime in March, the Supreme Court will listen to a whopping five hours of arguments on the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act, better known to us as the 2010 healthcare law.
By June, the Court is expected to hand down their decision over whether the entire law, or parts of the legislation, are constitutional, unconstitutional, or unable to be interpreted until certain provisions of the act go into effect.
Headline-grabbing controversy over the hotly-contested bill didn’t end when President Obama put his hand to the law in 2010. Since then, PPAHA has met no shortage of legal challenges in nearly every federal district court. Some judges have upheld the law, while others took issue with it, especially when it came to the so-called individual mandate embedded in the act, where every citizen will be required to have health insurance or else pay a yearly penalty in the form of a fine to the IRS.
Healthcare reform’s architects (incumbent, aspiring, or otherwise), won’t hesitate to emphasize how their respective plans for mending or preserving the American healthcare system will bring the greatest benefit to as many citizens as is humanly, or, even better, politically, possible.
But speaking as students who will definitely (not just rhetorically) be affected by the full or even partial enactment of PPAHA, we want to say a few things on behalf of ourselves.
First of all, a healthcare overhaul was a long time coming. Stamping out the onerous and unjust practice of having insurance companies dole out coverage based on preexisting conditions was a commendable achievement on the part of the Obama administration. This was especially impressive considering that, though the majority of industrialized countries and even some states of our union provide a more comprehensive medical safety net to their denizens, the lawmaking opposition stalwartly insisted that improved patient rights, greater insurance oversight, and fairer access to medical converge was un-American.
And while we also, and maybe even especially, appreciate the automatic extension of family coverage to dependent children up to the age of 26, at the same time, we’re a bit unsettled by the virtual legal compulsion to purchase a health insurance plan.
The foolishness of deciding to be medically uninsured is not lost with the Foghorn staff. And we can recognize both the individual mandate’s aim of stabilizing the insurance pool and how much of a better idea the $695/year penalty is better than the Republicans’ “Do or Die” alternative to the mandate (look it up). Yet, even knowing there are no easy answers, we’re wary of essentially being forced by law to buy something, not in order to do anything like drive a car, but for just, well, living.
When the parties for and against the law present before the Court four months from now, we’ll be routing for PPAHA, imperfect as it is. Our sharply split political scene and unfavorable economic climate forces us to evaluate which messy compromises we can embrace and which we cannot. In the Foghorn’s view, this law belongs to that first category.
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