ObamaCare Repeal Stalls

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There were no big surprises in the Democrat-controlled Senate with respect to repealing the Affordable Health Care for America Act, more commonly known as ObamaCare.  Early Wednesday evening, a measure to repeal the bill was sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and attached to an unrelated airport construction bill.  It was defeated on a party line vote of 51-47 with Democrats remaining united despite their “shellacking” in the 2010 election.  Rumors of Democrat defections, which had been circulating in the media and on Capitol Hill for the past week, proved to be nothing more than wishful thinking.

Despite turning back Republican attempts to repeal the bill in its entirety, Democrats came together with the GOP to approve an amendment proposed by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) eliminating an IRS reporting requirement in which medical businesses would have been forced to file a 1099 tax form for purchasing equipment worth $600 or more.  Critics of that particular part of the bill had contended that such a requirement would have buried them under mountains of unnecessary paperwork.  The Senate apparently agreed, passing the repeal by a vote of 81-17, despite arguing over $19 billion the provision was projected to raise.

According to Fox News, critics of the overall bill contend that there are many more equally odious provisions in the legislation, with Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) likening efforts to repeal such provisions in piecemeal fashion as “pouring a few glasses of fresh water into a polluted river.”  Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) was even more direct. “[Democrats] know its a rotten bill,” he said.

On Monday, Federal Judge Roger Vinson became the second judge to rule the act unconstitutional, based on the highly controversial provision which requires every American to purchase health care insurance or face a fine for failing to do so (the “insurance mandate”).  He is the fourth judge to rule on the matter, making it two judges for, and two against the bill.  However, Judge Vinson’s ruling may carry more weight.  The lawsuit filed in his court was one by the attorneys general of 26 different states, which constitutes a majority of the states themselves. Furthermore, Judge Vinson addressed the “severability” issue which, in most cases allows part of a bill to be rescinded even as it leaves the remainder intact.  Because there was no clause in the bill allowing the insurance mandate to be severed, the entire bill had to be rendered void, Vinson ruled.

Severing the insurance mandate would be highly problematic for the Obama administration. Requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions, another measure the bill enacts, won’t work without the individual mandate, because the latter drives more money into insurance company risk pools.  “How do you say to an insurance company, you must insure someone that you know is going to cost you a lot more money…if you do not have more people in the [risk] pool?” asked Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO). “None of them [Republicans] can answer that question.”

It’s the wrong question as Judge Vinson sees it.  When government lawyers insisted that Americans should be required to buy something based on an overly broad interpretation of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, Vinson had this to say: “There is quite literally no decision that, in the natural course of events, does not have an economic impact of some sort,” he wrote.  Nor did he accept the government’s attempt to shift the argument to the Necessary and Proper Clause of the Constitution by which Congress can enact “all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution” those powers granted to the legislative branch of the government.  He argued that Congress can’t create a problem and then use the clause to solve it because “the more harm the statute does, the more power Congress could assume for itself[.]”

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  • peggycox

    In fact, under new health care reform your health insurance company will no longer be allowed to cancel your policy if you get sick, we should be doing this already! search online "Wise Health Insurance" it is a good place to find insurance if you have illness like me.

    • Rifleman

      In fact, you're a bs-ing spammer. They can't cancel your policy unless you break the contract.

  • davarino

    Repeal it, start from scratch, and do things that bring costs down through the free market. This is America, you still have the right to do things that are beneficial for you, or detrimental to you, you choose. This is called liberty. We all also have the freedom to help our fellow man voluntarily, and Americans do that. If you take these freedoms away in the name of "compassion" you kill freedom and liberty. If you continue to give the federal government these nanny state powers you will no longer have "compassion" from the government, you will have tyranny.

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  • spinoneone

    With a Dhimmicrat majority in the Senate and another in the WH there was never going to any other way to kill 0care except via the Supreme Court. As was shown last night, there is no way to get 60 votes for repeal in the Senate and even less of a chance of getting 67 to over ride a veto.

  • Waldemar

    It is becoming apparent that what we need is the REFOUNDING of the country. I mean by that a Constitutional Convention to either get rid of the Commerce Clause or redefine it to make it as narrow as possible. Otherwise, the statists will always a way to expand their power until we find ourselves in the USSA, Union of Socialist States of America.

  • obamacare411

    From the WSJ: “David Rivkin, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said the ruling meant the 26 states challenging the law must halt implementation of pieces that apply to states and certain small businesses represented by plaintiffs.

    But the Obama administration said it has no to plans to halt implementation of the law. Already, it has mailed rebate checks to seniors with high prescription drug costs, helped set up insurance pools for people with pre-existing medical conditions and required insurers to allow children to stay on their parents’ insurance policies until they reach age 26.”

    At this point and time, the best option is to take this law to the Supreme Court.

    • scotsirish

      Or for the Administration to obey Federal court orders….

  • tagalog

    It isn't the best way for the federal courts to determine the constitutionality of Obamacare. Obamacare should be kept a political issue and repealed, not declared unconstitutional. One danger of relying on the courts, aside from perpetuating the already gone-too-far judicial oligopoly, is that the courts will hold, as Judge Vinson did, that Congressional regulation of any activity that positively affects interstate commerce, including health care, falls under Congressional regulatory power as set out in the Commerce Clause.

    • coyote3

      That commerce clause argument has undergone some scaling back in recent years by the courts. Oh, it is still far too overreaching, but the courts don' t just rubber stamp it, just because it has "an" impact on interstate commerce.