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Old 03-31-2012, 01:17 PM   #221
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I don't know if I disagree because I'm not sure I understand what it is you find unconstitutional.

The way I'm thinking about it, the example I outlined fits perfectly with the Medicare precedent. With Medicare the government defines a benefit that everyone gets, and charges everyone it feels is wealthy enough to pay for that benefit. Nobody gets a choice about the benefit, or a choice about whether to pay for it. My example works the same exact way, only they can opt out of paying for the benefit by getting private insurance.
In fact, one part of the charge is paid by everyone with earned income regardless of wealth or level of income. The benefit is divided into parts, one of which is deemed earned if the tax was paid over a long enough period. Additional benefits are available, voluntary, with one price and a single subsidy. Very straightforward.
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Old 03-31-2012, 02:32 PM   #222
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Originally Posted by Gone4Good View Post
I don't know if I disagree because I'm not sure I understand what it is you find unconstitutional.

The way I'm thinking about it, the example I outlined fits perfectly with the Medicare precedent. With Medicare the government defines a benefit that everyone gets, and charges everyone it feels is wealthy enough to pay for that benefit. Nobody gets a choice about the benefit, or a choice about whether to pay for it. My example works the same exact way, only they can opt out of paying for the benefit by getting private insurance.
IMO, Medicare sets a precedent for a "single payer" model with all the "premiums", taxes and reimbursements to providers handled by the federal government. The way the PPACA does it, the mandated premiums go entirely to private insurers. There is no precedent I'm aware of that allows the federal government to mandate, under threat of financial penalty, that people buy private products of any kind.

(And auto insurance is not a good counterexample. For one thing, driving is legally a privilege and not a right. Secondly, you don't HAVE to have car insurance; you just can't legally operate a motor vehicle on public roadways if you don't. And finally, the auto insurance mandates for those who *do* drive are state laws, not federal laws.)

This goes back to what I said the other day -- I think Medicare is a precedent that would have supported a "public option", and it's a little ironic that those who wanted PPACA *only* without the public option may have insisted against the only mechanism (as this proposed bill was being debated) which would have passed constitutional muster, assuming the court respected the precedent set by Medicare.
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Old 03-31-2012, 02:57 PM   #223
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IMO, Medicare sets a precedent for a "single payer" model with all the "premiums", taxes and reimbursements to providers handled by the federal government. The way the PPACA does it, the mandated premiums go entirely to private insurers. There is no precedent I'm aware of that allows the federal government to mandate, under threat of financial penalty, that people buy private products of any kind.

(And auto insurance is not a good counterexample. For one thing, driving is legally a privilege and not a right. Secondly, you don't HAVE to have car insurance; you just can't legally operate a motor vehicle on public roadways if you don't. And finally, the auto insurance mandates for those who *do* drive are state laws, not federal laws.)

This goes back to what I said the other day -- I think Medicare is a precedent that would have supported a "public option", and it's a little ironic that those who wanted PPACA *only* without the public option may have insisted against the only mechanism (as this proposed bill was being debated) which would have passed constitutional muster, assuming the court respected the precedent set by Medicare.
Oddly enough, Medicare as an option combined with pools of private insurers with a 'must carry' requirement and a federal subsidy system more or less funded by a dedicated tax (on payroll or self-employment income) is in the Federal budget just passed by the House. Only for people 65 and older, of course.
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Old 03-31-2012, 03:09 PM   #224
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In keeping with MichaelB's observation that the Court rules in ways that satisfies only itself, one way they could choose to navigate this minefield is with a bit of fancy footwork.

The Court rules that it believes a government mandate would be Unconstitutional and any law with one risks being struck down. It further notes that the "mandate" in ACA is a financial incentive only, and a weak one at that. There is no remedy available to the government in the Law if people ignore the mandate and fail to pay the "penalty." Congress specifically forbade the threat of prison or additional penalty.
This is very interesting news to me! So someone without insurance can receive a bill for the fee, and if they refuse to pay…nothing happens? If the mandate is actually this toothless, there really is no impact from the SC striking down the "mandate." Those willing to game the system can do so without a real penalty in either case.

I suddenly care much less about the outcome
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Old 03-31-2012, 03:25 PM   #225
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Certainly. They easily could have written the law to bump every tax bracket up 1%-2.5% (the size of the penalty), included a per-person tax deduction for everyone who buys health insurance equal to 1%-2.5% of AGI, dropped the word "mandate," and the word "penalty" and the whole thing would be constitutional. The ease with which we can achieve the same exact thing by slightly different means exposes the silliness of this whole debate.
OK, now that we've decided that the penalize vs. tax and deduct protocols are essentially equivalent, would that be a reasonable argument:

Advocate: Your honors, if you would approve a tax and deduct protocol, and you agree that it is equivalent to a penalize protocol, shouldn't you approve it?

Justice: But it is worded as a penalty.

Advocate: But it's equivalent.

Justice: It's the principle of the thing.
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Old 03-31-2012, 03:41 PM   #226
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OK, now that we've decided that the penalize vs. tax and deduct protocols are essentially equivalent, would that be a reasonable argument:

Advocate: Your honors, if you would approve a tax and deduct protocol, and you agree that it is equivalent to a penalize protocol, shouldn't you approve it?

Justice: But it is worded as a penalty.

Advocate: But it's equivalent.

Justice: It's the principle of the thing.
I follow you, but we do have three branches of Gov't with separation of powers. Compare this to a typical Mega-Corp:

Say I submit a purchase req for Good Companies Model XYZZY Gimbal Wabilizer and get it approved and it goes to purchasing.

The sales guy calls me and says they just came out with a new model, that's better and is the same price. Great, but I can't just say 'ship it!'. I need to go back through the approval process, which means send the req back to me, cancel it and write a new one (or amend it, if allowed) and send it through the process for signatures again.

Inefficient and bureaucratic? Yes, but it also protects people from over-stepping their authority. You take the good with the bad.

Congress can pass an amendment if they want to change the terminology used in the Constitution. That is not easy, and it's not supposed to be.

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Old 03-31-2012, 04:45 PM   #227
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There is no precedent I'm aware of that allows the federal government to mandate, under threat of financial penalty, that people buy private products of any kind.
Fair enough, and I understand that completely. But that is why I rebranded the "penalty" as payment for a benefit. It's hard for me to believe that the government can't charge citizens if it is offering something of value. And the option to purchase health insurance at standard rates after you become sick is quite valuable.
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Old 03-31-2012, 05:26 PM   #228
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OK, now that we've decided that the penalize vs. tax and deduct protocols are essentially equivalent, would that be a reasonable argument:
I do think it is reasonable to expect our Judges to make their decisions based on the substance of the issues they're adjudicating. And I think it's reasonable to expect equivalent things to be given equivalent treatment under our laws.
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Old 03-31-2012, 05:40 PM   #229
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In fact, one part of the charge is paid by everyone with earned income regardless of wealth or level of income. The benefit is divided into parts, one of which is deemed earned if the tax was paid over a long enough period. Additional benefits are available, voluntary, with one price and a single subsidy. Very straightforward.
Medicare Part B premiums are tiered by income with those with higher income paying more for the same Part B. Benefits.
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Old 03-31-2012, 08:09 PM   #230
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I do think it is reasonable to expect our Judges to make their decisions based on the substance of the issues they're adjudicating. And I think it's reasonable to expect equivalent things to be given equivalent treatment under our laws.
Maybe, but it's also critical that they make their decisions based on the exact wording of the laws they are deciding constitutionality on. If they let anything slip through based on the substance of the particular issue, they open the door for future abuses of the wording based on the precedent. I know that is the overriding issue they are struggling with right now. Personally, I wouldn't mind a decent national health plan, but I'm not willing to throw out any semblance of limitation on the federal government in order to achieve it.
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Old 03-31-2012, 09:10 PM   #231
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Charging a premium, or a tax, or a penalty, all may result in collecting the same amount of money but they are definitely not the same. It is not the responsibility of the Supreme Court to make that distinction but is the role of Congress.

G4G makes a valid point, that changing the language just a bit could make a big difference. If so, the Supreme Court could send it back to Congress with that suggestion. But they should not and (my bet) will not make that change themselves.
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Old 03-31-2012, 11:27 PM   #232
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I don't know if I disagree because I'm not sure I understand what it is you find unconstitutional.

The way I'm thinking about it, the example I outlined fits perfectly with the Medicare precedent. With Medicare the government defines a benefit that everyone gets, and charges everyone it feels is wealthy enough to pay for that benefit. Nobody gets a choice about the benefit, or a choice about whether to pay for it. My example works the same exact way, only they can opt out of paying for the benefit by getting private insurance.
Medicare is an income tax system plus a premium system... If you do not work, you do not pay into the system by income tax.. if you never work and do not qualify, you never ever pay into the system...

If the current plan (call it Obamacare cause I do not know the name) was changed and a tax was charged to buy insurance, I do not think that it the same.... I do not know of any tax that is charged to someone without them doing SOMETHING... IOW, you make a salary, you pay income taxes.. you buy something and you can pay an excise tax.... you fly you pay some fees (taxes) for the airport and security... all are based on the individual choosing to do something... your fix is a fee to everybody without them doing anything... a big difference IMO...


However, I do agree that if the gvmt decided to increase income tax or some other tax that they can collect... and then spend it to provide medical coverage to people that would pass muster.... again, it is HOW the tax is collected that makes a big difference.... not what they call it...

I will have to do some research, but the collection of taxes is limited by the constitution and amendments...
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Old 03-31-2012, 11:36 PM   #233
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Charging a premium, or a tax, or a penalty, all may result in collecting the same amount of money but they are definitely not the same. It is not the responsibility of the Supreme Court to make that distinction but is the role of Congress.

G4G makes a valid point, that changing the language just a bit could make a big difference. If so, the Supreme Court could send it back to Congress with that suggestion. But they should not and (my bet) will not make that change themselves.

And this is all speculation as there are only 9 people's opinion that really matter... and like here, on the TV there are many people on both sides that argue quite well.....

But I do not think that what G4G is the same... I think that there needs to be a lot of change on the income side to pass constitutionality... not a few word changes with basically the same mechanism.....
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Old 04-01-2012, 08:23 AM   #234
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Medicare is an income tax system plus a premium system... If you do not work, you do not pay into the system by income tax.. if you never work and do not qualify, you never ever pay into the system...

If the current plan (call it Obamacare cause I do not know the name) was changed and a tax was charged to buy insurance, I do not think that it the same.... I do not know of any tax that is charged to someone without them doing SOMETHING... IOW, you make a salary, you pay income taxes.. you buy something and you can pay an excise tax.... you fly you pay some fees (taxes) for the airport and security... all are based on the individual choosing to do something... your fix is a fee to everybody without them doing anything... a big difference IMO...

The penalty only applies to people who are required to file income taxes and is tied to the income they report (1-2.5% of AGI). If you don't work, or don't make enough, you don't pay. So by this measure, the penalty IS an income tax - just a contingent one (kind of like the extra income tax I pay because I haven't taken out a mortgage).
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Old 06-05-2012, 10:51 AM   #235
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Eh...looking up at the calendar and June is already here. Of course that means closer to when SCOTUS hands down a ruling. Drumroll ...

No matter what, now since the nominees for both parties are determined, I hope health care (as it impacts so many people, FIRE or not) still remains an issue for debate by the candidates in the upcoming months and not glossed over by the candidates as covered in the last election.
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Old 06-28-2012, 09:10 AM   #236
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News about to roll out...

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Old 06-28-2012, 09:17 AM   #237
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Descison just rolled out. Watching the coverage on the news right now.
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Old 06-28-2012, 09:21 AM   #238
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CNN got it wrong initially, saying the individual mandate was struck down. Now the report is the law was upheld in its entirety.
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Old 06-28-2012, 09:22 AM   #239
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ACA is uphelp - so i guess if Uncle is going to give me "free" health care why continue w*rking? Certainly is a game changer - even if a different congress tries to change I dont think we can go back once this takes effect.
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Old 06-28-2012, 09:23 AM   #240
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CNN got it wrong initially, saying the individual mandate was struck down. Now the report is the law was upheld in its entirety.
Huh? How could CNN get it that wrong initially?
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