George Will: Headed on a path to extinction?
So, Lambert says, the ACA's penalties are too low to prod the healthy to purchase insurance, even given ACA's subsidies for purchasers. The ACA's authors probably understood this perverse incentive and assumed that once Congress passed the ACA with penalties low enough to be politically palatable, Congress could increase them.
But Roberts' decision limits Congress' latitude by holding that the small size of the penalty is part of the reason it is, for constitutional purposes, a tax. It is not a “financial punishment” because it is not so steep that it effectively prohibits the choice of paying it.
Unable to increase penalties substantially, Congress, in the context of “guaranteed issue” and “community rating,” has only one way to induce healthy people to purchase insurance. This is by the hugely expensive process of increasing premium subsidies enough to make negligible the difference between the cost of insurance to purchasers and the penalty for not purchasing. Republicans will ferociously resist exacerbating the nation's financial crisis in order to rescue the ACA.
Because the penalties are constitutionally limited by the reasoning whereby Roberts declared them taxes, he may have saved the ACA's constitutionality by sacrificing its feasibility. So as the president begins his second term, the signature achievement of his first term looks remarkably rickety.
WASHINGTON POST WRITERS GROUP
Voices Photo Galleriesview all
- 14589OKC Thunder: Thunder trio praise fans before potential departures
- 8609Oklahoma State football: Todd Monken thinks Wes Lunt should've stayed in Stillwater
- 6402Student shot dead during botched home invasion
- 6393Oklahoma medical examiner reports cause of deaths in Grand Lake boat crash
- 6018Soaring gasoline prices hurt Oklahoma City area retailers
- 5816Oklahoma football: Sooners get pair of commitments
- 4098As Boy Scouts' vote on gay members nears, faith groups weigh in