Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Constitutionality of Healthcare

I read this ruling on the constitutionality of healthcare, which I found entirely fascinating.  I went into it ignorantly believing the foundational logic to be absurd and the wrongness of the ruling to be obvious.  It turns out that there are other smart people around, and one of them wrote this.  It also gives a super interesting (in my opinion) window into the way this part of our legal system works.  I contrast it to this ruling which comes to largely the same conclusion without nearly as much intelligence and style.

Here's what I take away from the rulings:
1. It seems quite likely that the provision requiring the purchase of health insurance will be struck down as an unconstitutional overreach of the commerce clause.

 2. This problem could have been avoided in a number of essentially equivalent ways.  The arguments that the debate is essentially formalistic are sound, but the formal difference lead to practical difference down the road when legal precedent is considered, so the clause really must be struck down.

3. It seems unlikely to me that the rest of the bill will also be destroyed, though frankly I'd say that the best defense against that would be to amend the clause in question to avoid the formalistic issues.  A tax, set at the lowest costing health insurance plan available, and applied as a subsidy to the health insurance plans of all americans would be an alternative that was likely to be entirely legal.  It would be rather similar to social security actually, except, you know, fiscally sound.

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