The nine robes have spoken. President Obama’s health care law just became the largest tax increase in American history. Surviving by a 5-4 decision, the president’s health care law will mean less coverage, less care and higher costs for the poor and middle class. The ruling is a major disappointment for the millions of Americans concerned about freedom and the cost and availability of quality health care, and it will likely be a political liability for the president.
Although the court has upheld the law, there is still division over how best to provide health care. The challenge now is to move forward and seek repeal or revision of elements of the law that prove unworkable. Although this trial-and-error approach to government is less than ideal, it is necessary.
Much of the effort will revolve around the law’s initial goals, such as the need to reduce the cost of health care. Health care spending — which is now approaching 20 percent of GDP — is clearly out of control. It threatens the budget of every citizen and dims our chances of economic recovery and long-term prosperity.
The law has an unacceptable effect on personal choice. It undermines the time-honored principle that health care decisions are made between patients and doctors. The law changes the equation, giving Washington bureaucrats control over medical decisions. These unelected bureaucrats can alter, or even deny, treatment. That must change.
The president’s health care law would have been subjected to a more honest debate had we known all the facts from the beginning. But it was only after the plan became law that everything was revealed. As then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi stated, Congress had to pass the bill so we could find out what was in it.
A case in point was the president’s presentation of the plan. He repeatedly said that individuals could keep their health care plans if they liked them. According to a Congressional Budget Office study released earlier this year, that simply isn’t true. As many as 20 million people could lose their employer coverage under the law. The president said that his plan would reduce health care costs and would not increase the federal debt. We learned later that those statements were false as well. Then again, he also said that the mandate wasn’t a tax.
There are other concerns about the law. One is the changes and cuts to Medicare and popular programs such as Medicare Advantage. Another is that the law does nothing to address the fraud in federal health care programs that costs taxpayers billions.
We face a serious challenge. In the midst of a stubborn recession, millions of Americans face uncertainty about their economic futures. A key contributor to this uncertainty is the cost of health care under the president’s law.
President Obama needs to cooperate in an open and honest evaluation of the health care law. He should consult Republicans and Democrats, retain the elements of the law that work, alter those that can be salvaged and repeal those that cannot.
This is the only way forward. The Supreme Court has spoken. Now we must work to provide what the president promised: a health care system that provides high quality care at lower cost. The president’s law does not.
Thomas Grier writes on constitutional law, campaigns and elections, and pro-growth policy. He holds degrees from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and Arizona State University. He lives in Arizona with his beautiful wife and two amazing children. Follow Thomas on Twitter.