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Saturday, June 22, 2024
Recent Florida court ruling doesn't kill health care bill

Mike Kujak

Recent Florida court ruling doesn't kill health care bill

Ambiguity in a legal ruling can be troublesome. In some cases, some pretty unpredictable and immature actions occur while trying to establish the constitutionality of a certain court ruling. For example, when U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of Florida found one small mandate of the Affordable Health Care Act unconstitutional, there are many different ways to interpret his ruling.

One way to interpret it would be to cry out to your state that the entire health-care act is dead. That's the route Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen decided to take as he and 26 other states joined a lawsuit against the implementation of the law. The truth is that the constitutionality of the law is still very much up in the air and will continue to be so until the Supreme Court makes its decision sometime in the next year or so.

Let's just say it's going to be a rough ride until they make their decision. The fights over the constitutionality of the individual mandate will be illogical and inconsistent. The Supreme Court ruling predictions will be polarizing and over-exaggerated. Finally, the constant analysis of how all this will affect the 2012 election will be repetitive and often misguided. So let's get into it, shall we?

At the base of the issue is the debate surrounding the constitutionality of the mandate. The big problem the Florida judge had with the Affordable Health Care Act was the idea that the government shouldn't have the ability to force the public to acquiring some form of health insurance.

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When you frame the mandate like that, his objection seems reasonable at first. The government regulating your personal inactivity does seem heavy-handed and overreaching. However, in this particular case the discrepancy between inactivity and activity isn't so easy to determine. How is not buying health insurance a form of activity? Well, many other judges would call ""not having health insurance"" a kind of negligence. A certain form of negligence that is frankly, bankrupting this country.

Finding a balance between government responsibility and personal responsibility has always been the key goal of health-care reform. For the most part, that balance is what the Affordable Health Care Act is trying to achieve. Of course, that's just one small argument of a college sophomore. The only arguments and conclusions that actually matter are the ones the Supreme Court will eventually come to.

Predicting what the Supreme Court will ultimately decide on this ruling is difficult. We assume that the more conservative judges like Justice Antonin Scalia or Justice Clarence Thomas would rather see an end to the Affordable Health Care Act than stick to intellectual consistency. The big deciding vote will likely belong to independent Justice Anthony Kennedy, and at this point in the game it's just too early to tell how he may lean.

But despite the final decision there's another aspect of the ruling that Van Hollen doesn't seem to be acknowledging. At the end of the day, even if the mandate is a flaw in the bill, it doesn't mean the entire bill's dead. In this particular case, the Supreme Court has the power of severability and can pick out the part of the law they disagree with. So hopefully at this point Van Hollen's statement that ""the health-care bill is dead"" is starting to look more and more ridiculous.

Of course, this whole dispute wouldn't be receiving so much attention if it didn't have some possible consequences for the 2012 elections. So if you were starting to get sick of all the ridiculous rhetoric and whining over the health-care debate that took place over the last two years, get ready for at least two more years of the same.

Many of the newly-elected congressional Republicans believe they were solely elected to repeal Obamacare, so surely this ruling will be very important to their cause. Van Hollen is a significant part of the movement for a big reason. He can afford to be one the loudest voices on this issue because he doesn't have to be re-elected in 2012. Unlike other conservative leaders, he doesn't have to worry about this decision coming back to bite him if the Supreme Court rules the other way.

For President Obama and the Democrats this issue is a terribly annoying barricade. It halts further reform for the issue and turns the national conversation against them. They'll have to spend much more of their future campaigns convincing the American public that one of their most significant accomplishments is actually an accomplishment at all.

At the end of the day, Van Hollen and other conservatives aren't completely bonkers. I'll try to meet them halfway on this. I understand the frustration with the Affordable Health Care Act. I don't like everything in it either. But when you ask the GOP what they think about the act they'll shout ""Get rid of it. Burn it down!""

But when you ask them what new changes they would make or what they would add to the law, their response is a worrisome: ""Get rid of it. Burn it down!"" You can't reason with that kind of thinking. Until irresponsible and brash voices like Van Hollen's stop polarizing the argument, it's going to be a very tough conversation to participate in during the upcoming months.

Mike Kujak is a sophomore with an undeclared major. We welcome all feedback. Please send responses to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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