Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Legal Challenge to Healthcare Reform

There are a number of challenges by politically motivated attorneys-general and governors, playing to larger reactionary forces. None of them have legal merit, let alone real Constitutional challenge. However, the "individual mandate" provision has always been troublesome. If it is the federal government directing every citizen to buy the product sold by a private sector corporation, absent a public option, then it is unprecedented. The closest to it would be state governments requiring automobile insurance, but that is for people who own cars, and citizens are not required to own cars, so they have some choice.

However, this is not how the so-called individual mandate provision was written. As explained by Lawrence O'Donnell, whose expertise is precisely in the area of financial regulations in Congressional legislation, what the mandate basically says is that if you don't buy health insurance, you won't get the tax break that people who do buy the insurance will get. That is clearly within the law and within accepted practice.

Moreover, the IRS will not investigate compliance, but respond to what is on the tax return. I imagine if non-compliance arises in a tax audit, that might be a different story. The IRS has denied the latest Rabid Right scare story, that it is hiring thousands of new agents to monitor compliance.

I still think that an option to buy public plan insurance from the government would more definitively solve this troublesome problem of people feeling they must buy insurance from the same corporate entities who inflate prices, cut coverage whenever possible, and use their money to influence politicians and advertise to drive out competition. But given the compromises in this bill overall, this is an acceptable price at this time for the reforms it includes.

Although I have to admit I say that knowing that it will never apply to me. I look forward to Medicare.

Update: Here's a more detailed explanation of both the insidious Rabid Right lies about this, and the facts.

Lesson for the Day: What do you do after you've had the worst first half of the year?

You go get the best second half of the year.

Thanks, UConn and congrats on being NCAA women hoops champs, with your second undefeated season in a row.

Monday, April 05, 2010

April Madness

I spent hours of my weekend watching parts of four Final Four basketball games, so I may as well waste more time noting this fact. Although Butler is a great story, and the Butler v. Duke is the David and Goliath that has the media salivating--if only they had a week to drive it into the ground!--I must admit I enjoy watching the women's games more.

It's partly because their game is a purer style of basketball. But men's college hoops has become a tryout league for the NBA. You have a great freshman season, you're drafted. The same sort of sense of entitlement and egotism you see in the pros is infecting college. The stakes aren't as great for the women yet--the WNBA doesn't pay nearly as much, and fewer college players are likely to have pro careers. So they are playing for the now, and it shows.

The greatest players of any era show you what you've never seen before. LeBron James is doing that now in the NBA. But the Connecticut women are showing it in their NCAA tournament--they've won 74 (or something like that) games in a row, and until Sunday had defeated their opponents by 40 to 50 points. Sunday, the Oklahoma team gave them a real if brief scare at the start of the second half, but UConn took control in pretty short order. They play Stanford for the championship Tuesday, and that's the game I'm most looking forward to watching.