The decision of the Supreme Court to uphold the Affordable Care Act will now ensure chronic ill people access to insurance coverage they were previously denied. Although there are portions of the law which will not go into effect until 2014, the lives of many people — our neighbors, or family members or even ourselves — will no longer be marginalized or valued less by our culture because of their medical status. Prior to the passage of the ACA, serious health conditions deemed by many insurance providers as pre-existing, non-coverable as the result of improper living habits (i.e. smoking, excessive use of alcohol, etc…), will give people a chance at living a life with dignity and honor.
Stop and think for a moment about the number of people you know without proper health care coverage. Those friends from childhood or college, or a colleague, whose child suddenly develops some illness you’ve never heard of, and unexpectedly loses their job and their COBRA coverage runs out. And they are unable to find new or supplemental coverage. Think of individuals you know who through no fault of their own suddenly becoming ill themselves – terminal or chronic and their world turns upside down. It is more than an ideological debate or political issue. It is about having the opportunity to live with dignity instead of ignored or vilified.
Since the Obamacare decision, great speculation has been swirling concerning Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision and his legal ideology (whether he is conservative enough or not).
No one may know what Chief Justice Roberts’ thoughts concerning the Affordable Care Act are. Whether or not the chief justice was focused more on the legacy of the Supreme Court in light of the previous decisions of the Court viewed as partisan, is unknown.
What is known is that it is to Congress, pursuant to their constitutional powers to make decisions concerning the penalty which places in the hands of the people whether to be insured or not. Further, it places upon the Congress the responsibility to respond to the needs of their constituents – the American people. In an article published in The National Law Journal (Mauro, 2012) quoting from the Court’s decision, the chief justice states “[members] of this Court, are vested with the authority to interpret the law; we possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments … Those decisions are entrusted to our nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.”
The argument whether it is a mandate or a tax – is a matter of semantics. Pause for a moment and wonder why the lives and dignity is the proper subject of political debate or belief. There is meaning and value in the first two letters of the words, “United States” than who is right and who is wrong.