News Release

Roberts Upholds “Obamacare”: Corporatists United?

CLARK NEWHALL, clark.newhall at health-justice.org, @cnewhall
Executive director of Health Justice, Newhall is a doctor and a lawyer. He said today: “Interestingly, it was Roberts who voted to save Obamacare from going down in flames. … The divide is not between liberal and conservative so much as it is between corporatists and everyone else. The current system is in effect a subsidy to the heath insurance industry. We should instead move to get rid of that industry, it is simply not sustainable. The individual mandate has been ruled constitutional as a tax. What that means essentially is that Obama and Congress could require every American to buy a lousy product at an inflated price.”

STEFFIE WOODHANDLER, swoolhandler at challiance.org
DAVID HIMMELSTEIN, M.D., david_himmelstein at hms.harvard.edu
also, via Mark Almberg, mark at pnhp.org
Woolhandler and Himmelstein are professors of medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-founders of Physicians for a National Health Program. The group released a statement today: “Although the Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act, the unfortunate reality is that the law, despite its modest benefits, is not a remedy to our health care crisis: (1) it will not achieve universal coverage, as it leaves at least 26 million uninsured, (2) it will not make health care affordable to Americans with insurance, because of high co-pays and gaps in coverage that leave patients vulnerable to financial ruin in the event of serious illness, and (3) it will not control costs. …”

GWENDOLYN MINK, wendymink at gmail.com,
Available for a limited number of interviews, Mink is co-editor of the two-volume Poverty in the United States: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics and Policy and author of Welfare’s End. She said today: “The Court’s cramped view of Medicaid expansion means that low income people will bear the individual mandate ‘tax’ disproportionately. Upholding the requirement that individuals buy private insurance while allowing states to opt out of Medicaid expansion is the worst possible outcome. Achieving universal coverage by compelling low income Americans to purchase private insurance may beef up health industry profits but at the expense of people most in need of health care for all.”

MARGARET FLOWERS, M.D., mdpnhp at gmail.com
Flowers is congressional fellow with Physicians for a National Health Program. She said today meaningful reform would be to expand Medicare to everyone in the U.S., in effect dropping two words, “over 65.” She added that much of discussion around Obamacare has been political posturing, that Romney and Obama agreed on basically the same system, mandating people to buy private insurance rather than provide public healthcare.

RUSSELL MOKHIBER, russellmokhiber at gmail.com
Mokhiber is founder of Single Payer Action and editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter. Mokhiber and 50 doctors filed a brief with the Supreme Court asking them “to strike down the individual mandate that forces people to buy lousy private health insurance. We reject Obamacare and Romneycare.”

NANCY ALTMAN, njalt at aol.com
Altman is co-chair of the Strengthen Social Security Campaign. She recently co-wrote a piece about implications for the mandate ruling by the Supreme Court. Wrote Altman: “The individual mandate, the focus of the right-wing attack … was originally proposed by the very conservative Heritage Foundation in 1989; it was introduced into Congress by the late Republican Senator John Chafee (R-RI) in 1993, with such conservative co-sponsors as Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA). …

“If the individual mandate is declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, then so are the radical right’s plots to undermine Medicare and replace it with Voucher-Care.

“Or, consider the radical right’s ambition for Social Security. They want to privatize it, i.e., have the payroll tax contributions that currently go to the Trust Funds, instead flow into private, individual accounts, earning interest from private banks and/or invested in private stocks and bonds that, the proponents concede, must be limited to minimize capital risk. Again, as with Voucher-Care, this would have to be mandated so the money is unavailable to the owner until age 65, and then paid out in monthly amounts. How is this not an individual mandate?

“Thus, both the Ryan plan for Voucher-Care, and the radical right’s ambition to privatize Social Security depend on individual mandates.”