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Judge Declares Federal Healthcare Plan (Partly) Unconstitutional 1505

Posted by timothy
from the urge-us-to-go-and-buy dept.
healeyb writes "In a surprise move, US District Judge Henry E. Hudson issued a ruling today that the universal healthcare law that was pushed through by the Obama administration is unconstitutional. Specifically, he invalidated the section of the law that requires all citizens to purchase healthcare insurance, arguing that it does not fall under the purview of Commerce Clause of the Constitution, as has been asserted by the government. The ruling represents the first major setback for President Barack Obama on an issue that will likely end up at the Supreme Court. Two other courts have shot down challenges to the law."
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Judge Declares Federal Healthcare Plan (Partly) Unconstitutional

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  • by Moridineas (213502) on Monday December 13, 2010 @03:07PM (#34536878) Journal

    I'm not saying he's right or wrong in this matter (the judge seemed to agree with him) but he's one of those guys and he's a state Attorney General for Virginia pushing his conservative agenda to a national level.

    Isn't that the exact definition of ad hominem?

  • Re:Surprise move? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mark72005 (1233572) on Monday December 13, 2010 @03:11PM (#34536924)
    You don't think it's reasonable to say every citizen must buy a particular product from a small set of private companies, or face onerous tax penalties (and jail time, if unpaid?)
  • by istartedi (132515) on Monday December 13, 2010 @03:20PM (#34537102) Journal

    If he had simply put a tax increase in the bill to pay for it, it would be totally constitutional. That was not possible from a political PoV, so they came up with the individual mandate.

    IMHO, the fatal flaw with the bill is that it doesn't (as a first step) try the low-cost solutions to fixing our system:

    1. Abolish the anti-trust exemptions for health insurers. Yes. You heard me. I bet you didn't even know that so-called "progressives" are so ready, willing and able to ignore one of the key ideas of the original Progressive Era, circa 1900.

    2. Price transparency. In most states you can't even check to see if you're being ripped off because price lists are secret!

    3. Eliminate provider networks. All insurers must pay the same rates from all providers, and must accept claims from any licensed practitioner.

    4. Uniform, standard billing codes.

    2, 3 and 4 would combine to reveal the regime in ways heretofore unseen, a veritable Wikileak of our current healthcare insanity. It would also help to eliminate over-billing of our current government programs.

    None of these very low cost alternatives got on the table. Instead, not only were the inneficient inscos not punished, they were actually rewarded with the individual mandate! It's just another example of how powerful interests have bought government.

  • by emacs_abuser (140283) on Monday December 13, 2010 @03:41PM (#34537546)

    You hit the nail on the head.

    The judge is an idiot.

    He's in a country where the hospitals are REQUIRED to treat the sick, regardless of their insurance status.

    A law requiring insurance is only logical, and fair.

  • The Right to Choose (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alphastrike (1938886) on Monday December 13, 2010 @03:46PM (#34537628)

    Quoting Judge Hudson, "At its core, this dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance—or crafting a scheme of universal health insurance coverage—it's about an individual's right to choose to participate."

    The problem with his perspective, is that the eventual goal of universal healthcare is aimed at prevention. Not matter how incomplete the current health care bill is, the eventual goal is to decrease high cost of health care associated with late complications of TREATABLE diseases.

    If you are sick right now in this country and you walk into an emergency room, they are obligated to treat you. You can't not be turned down for care if you can't not pay, so long as the care is necessary. So if you can't pay and you have no insurance, somebody's gotta suck up the cost. Doctors, nurses and pharmacists arn't going to work full time jobs for free. Guess who has to pay? The taxpayers, through government giving hospitals checks so they don't go bankrupt.

    Now take Billy Bob, he is a 40 y/o truck driver, smokes 1 pack a day. He has no health insurance, so he doesn't see a doctor. No one tells him to quit smoking. He has hypertension, but he doesn't get treated because he feels fine and doesn't see a doctor. At Age 50 he develops diabetes, he feels crappy from time to time but he doesn't see a doctor(no insurance) At Age 58 he has an heart attack, get sent to the ER. They find he can't be cathed, and has to go through a bypass procedure. Except he is also is in chronic renal failure from chronic diabetes and hypertension. To save his life they do a bypass and his kidney is shot for good. He stays in the ICU for 2 weeks sick as a dog after his surgery, because
    he has COPD and his lungs won't work. Then he gets to go home but is living on dialysis. At age 60 he has a big head bleed from all the anticoagulants he takes for his heart. He goes back to the hospital and slow waste away after a Tracheostomy and PEG(Percutaneous endoscopic gastrotomy or feeding tube.) He dies six weeks later in a nursing home from pneumonia.

    Was his care good? Absolutely, top notch care, they did everything right. Except for the last 2 years his life sucked, and he died a miserable death. What's his cost of care? It's probably more than Billy Bob ever made in his entire life. And taxpayers are paying for it.

    So what's the alternative? Billy Bob has insurance, he sees a doctor. He can't quit smoking but at least he start taking his blood pressure pills and his diabetes pills. His first heart attack comes at age 68 but he is not as sick so his bypass goes much smoother. He get scared and finally quit smoking. Great, that's a lot more years on his life, that he can enjoy. A lot more years where he is contributing to society by driving a truck. And as a Tax payer...I like the fact that ten years of blood pressure pill and insulin still cost a hell of a lot less than Emergency Bypass+ICU+Diaysis+Trach PEG and nursing home. I think if Billy Bob had to pick, he'd pick this route as well.

    That is why everyone should have insurance. Now the other alternative is stop paying for Emergency Care. Grandma has an appendicitis? No insurance...let her die. You wife get shot in a drive by? No insurance...bleed to death. Your kid came out with some rare genetic disease that's gonna cost tens of thousands to fix? No insurance...good luck. You can crawl to the doorsteps of the ER, and they'll shut the door on you if you can't pay.

    But are we ready for this kind of society? I don't think we are...yet.

    So since I am a taxpayer, and I have to pay for people who can't pay...I rather pay less. So what is wrong with universal health care? Every dumb idiot out there who isn't covered and seeing a doctor, is making me pay more out of my pocket. Because when they are sick enough, they all come to the hospital.

    I disagree with Judge Hudson, it's not about an individual's right to choose to participate. It's about if I have to pay taxes, I like to pay less.

  • by corbettw (214229) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `wttebroc'> on Monday December 13, 2010 @03:49PM (#34537686) Journal

    It looks more like the variant of ad hominem known as poisoning the well. Don't attack what the guy is doing now, but detail criticism of what he's done in the past that you disagree with. It's a pretty juvenile tactic, IMO.

    And while I'm not saying the OP is a child molester or anything, you should keep in mind that it is pretty common for child molesters to poison wells during discourse. Just saying.

  • Re:Unconstitutional (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Arker (91948) on Monday December 13, 2010 @03:54PM (#34537818) Homepage
    The entire text of the Constitution, as well as the extensive extemporaneous evidence, SCREAMS that this was never intended to be interpreted in anything like this fashion. It's a sophomoric rationale that was invented with a nod and a wink to gut the Constitution then, and it's been used to that affect for decades. You may be right in that the federal judiciary at this point is far too corrupt to ever enforce the law, but that is a different issue entirely.
  • by melted (227442) on Monday December 13, 2010 @03:56PM (#34537874) Homepage

    What really needed to be done is:
    1. Single payer system for basic healthcare. You can't have surgeons and insurance company execs who drive Ferraris and reduced healthcare cost at the same time. No pain - no gain, something's gotta give. In the system where the normal pricing rules don't work (because prices aren't even advertised, and you won't bargain anyway when it's your health or life that's on the line), someone has to have the authority to fight the more extravagant examples of creative pricing (i.e. pharmaceuticals that cost 1/10th the price once you cross either of the borders)
    2. All premium services (i.e. shit you wouldn't die from if denied care) require separate insurance, with stiff premiums.
    3. A separate, progressive, mandatory federal income tax for healthcare (and yes, I know it would hit me disproportionally, since I make quite a bit).
    4. To reduce the tax burden, reduce Pentagon budget by 4/5ths or more and get out of fucking Afghanistan. Winning there is _not possible_. If we're so into spending money we don't have, let's at least spend it on things that matter.
    5. Put the Congress and the Senate on the same insurance plans as what their constituents have. Not gold-plated, diamond encrusted Cadillac plans they pay $0 for right now. Make them feel the pain of the common man.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday December 13, 2010 @04:06PM (#34538048)

    From a Liberals perspective, meaningful health care means you provide free health care to all, the resulting quality of which is so poor only the richest people can have decent health care because anyone who really wants good care pays out of pocket.

    Instead of a system where even poor people can buy catastrophic plans to have access to really good health care when needed, the middle class have excellent health care through reasonably priced policies, and you have a safety net of basic coverage for people that cannot afford anything.

    The last option of course makes the most sense. If you make something totally free to all the quality will suck as people abuse the system. We are not anywhere near the ideal system because of runaway costs in the system, but the real question is the ideal we should strive for, and a system that is free for all and good for none is not my idea of the best end-goal.

    Forcing people to buy health care is not a great idea if you take away choice as to what they can buy and make sure that all plans you can purchase are loaded with options many may not want.

  • by DavidTC (10147) <slas45dxsvadiv.v ... m ['x.c' in gap]> on Monday December 13, 2010 @04:12PM (#34538168) Homepage

    Indeed, I half suspected something like this would happen, and as someone as liberal as humanly possible, I am laughing my ass off.

    To recap: We should have had single payer system.

    Instead, insurance companies, looking to make even more money, promised to insure everyone...but only if everyone was forced to buy from them, so that the healthy couldn't skip out on the deal.

    If the latter part of that gets sentence struck down, insurance companies will have to insure anyone who wants it (I.e, who is currently sick) and then, when healthy, the person can just let their insurance lapse, secure in the fact they can just buy more insurance when they need, because insurance companies can no longer deny insurance on any grounds except failure to pay.

    I am fucking rolling on the floor laughing. I mean that literally. I read this an hour ago, and it's taken me that long to stop laughing to comment. I had to make a support call during that, and I had serious difficulty not cracking up during it.

    You just utterly fucked yourself, insurance companies. Oh, man, oh man.

    I hope the teaparty folks take this as a rallying cry, and regardless of how this goes in the court, yell at their congressmen to remove exactly this part of the law.

  • by russotto (537200) on Monday December 13, 2010 @05:33PM (#34539424) Journal

    I think if they can not get 6 justices to agree that some law is unconstitutional than they should leave it alone.

    I think if as many as 3 justices think a law is unconstitutional, it should be struck down.

  • Re:Surprise move? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 13, 2010 @06:01PM (#34539854)

    And for the next World War we need all possible Americans to be in top physical condition which means they must have healthcare...

  • by Bryan Ischo (893) * on Monday December 13, 2010 @06:06PM (#34539906) Homepage

    "the reason why the medical system is broken in the USA is because of the terribly unhealthy advice we give for diet from the USDA"

    False. I lived in New Zealand, where the obesity rates are comparable (maybe slightly less but not much so) than in the USA. Their national health care system worked just fine in these circumstances. It's true that the average cost to everyone was certainly higher because of people's poor personal health choices; but the costs were still reasonable.

    Let me tell you the few things that were markedly different between the way things worked there and the way they work here (in the USA):

    1. In New Zealand, the doctors focus on patient needs rather than on fights with insurance companies. My wife is a doctor and while working in New Zealand she spent 100% of her day with patients (well, as close as 100% as is possible in any job). Here in the USA she spends a *considerable* chunk of her time every day fighting with insurance companies (directly on the phone, or by proxy via stupid policies that she has to adhere to). This is a *cost* to the system because doctors are being paid a certain percentage of their very expensive time in the USA to deal with stuff that shouldn't even be a question, or at least wouldn't be in a national health care system.

    2. Doctors are respected in New Zealand and are treated with respect, much more so than in the USA. There are probably lots of reasons for this, but I think that part of it is expectation that people in the USA have that doctors should do whatever they want them to because they (the patient) are *paying* for the services (via their insurance costs). Doctors are happier and more effective when there is some respect for their knowledge and skill; it's easier to treat patients correctly when they *listen* to the doctor because the doctor has some authority, than when the patients potentially ignore doctor advice - or are even downright hostile to it.

    3. The hospital sytem in New Zealand is set up to effectively and efficiently care for patients of different needs because it's all managed and costs and needs can be anticipated ahead of time. Here in the USA my wife is constantly complaining about all of the stupid and time-(and MONEY-)wasting patient shuffling they have to do. She works at a private hospital and thus they have to (by law) accept any patient that walks in the emergency room, even if that patient can't pay. The government supposedly provides county hospitals that will take these patients once they are in stable condition for transfer, but in practice the county hospitals are not funded well enough and so they fight to take as few patients as possible. So you end up with all of this fighting between hospitals to try to offload 'deadbeat' patients to each other. All of this is overhead for the system and is just totally a waste. The private hospital ends up having to milk as much as it can from paying patients to make up for the deadbeats. So you end up with even more inefficiency because they have to have policies in place that make them the most money - for example, routinely running tests that may not actually be called for in all cases - just to balance out non-payers. So they end up doing 'busywork' (unnecessary tests) just so that they can get paid for something, which once again sucks a certain percentage of their productivity away.

    4. Doctors in New Zealand actually have authority over end-of-life decisions. Which means that when a 90 year old patient with severe dementia, no contact with reality, living only in the pain of end stage cancer and with no hope of survival, starts bleeding uncontrollably, the doctor in New Zealand can actually make the decision to allow the patient to die. In the USA this decision can *only* be made by the patient's family, who will, of course, ask for no expense to be spared in saving the life of their loved one. This easy for them because there is no actual expense *to them*, just to 'the system'. So in the USA you have a system where the people m

  • by FriendlyPrimate (461389) on Monday December 13, 2010 @06:47PM (#34540382)

    If he had simply put a tax increase in the bill to pay for it, it would be totally constitutional. That was not possible from a political PoV, so they came up with the individual mandate.

    IMHO, the fatal flaw with the bill is that it doesn't (as a first step) try the low-cost solutions to fixing our system:

    1. Abolish the anti-trust exemptions for health insurers. Yes. You heard me. I bet you didn't even know that so-called "progressives" are so ready, willing and able to ignore one of the key ideas of the original Progressive Era, circa 1900.

    2. Price transparency. In most states you can't even check to see if you're being ripped off because price lists are secret!

    3. Eliminate provider networks. All insurers must pay the same rates from all providers, and must accept claims from any licensed practitioner.

    4. Uniform, standard billing codes.

    2, 3 and 4 would combine to reveal the regime in ways heretofore unseen, a veritable Wikileak of our current healthcare insanity. It would also help to eliminate over-billing of our current government programs.

    None of these very low cost alternatives got on the table. Instead, not only were the inneficient inscos not punished, they were actually rewarded with the individual mandate! It's just another example of how powerful interests have bought government.

    Wow....absolutely great post!

    I'll add to #2. IMHO, one of the reasons why healthcare costs so much is because the costs are hidden. Doctors should be required to tell you how much something is going to cost BEFORE ordering a test, prescribing something, etc... They should even be required to tell you how much a doctor's visit is going to cost when you make your appointment. Make the costs as visible as possible, and let us decide if it's worth it. If a cancer treatment costs $100,000 per year, and only has a slim chance of extending our life, tell us that and let us decide. There should be none of this "well figure out how to bill you later". And you get multiple bills in the mail, so you're never even sure you've paid the entire balance because something else could come next week. No other industry operates like this. Imagine if every time you took your car to be fixed, you weren't told how much it was going to cost. Instead, you'd only find out how much it cost after the bills for the service stopped coming in the mail at some point in the future.

  • Re:Surprise move? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jayteedee (211241) on Monday December 13, 2010 @07:54PM (#34541106)

    No the Republicans tried to kill all 3 methods. Why, because we DON'T WANT THIS. Period. People like me are very happy with our healthcare. Our family pays about $200/month for the 5 of us (major medical) and don't find it a particular burden. We never use it and I would go to a higher deductible if I could find one (can't). Most likely scenario is a kid needs a cast or stitches. This would be cheap out of pocket. Most other things are very unlikely and so major medical is all that is needed. We eat and exercise regularly to keep in good health so we don't need medical care.

    Our national debate is NOT screwed up. People like you WON'T listen. Try to railroad something thru that approximately HALF the people in the country DON'T want is not a way to debate an issue or run a government. We've told you NO in no uncertain terms so either work at the state level if you think it is really necessary, or leave the country. 50/50 debates and issues and having one side push through an agenda will only lead to the other ~50% being pissed off. I say this to the Republicans too! This leads to civil war ultimately. It's why Democracies DON'T work and is why we are in a Republic (or a least originally were). It's the classic 51 wolves and 49 sheep deciding what's going to be for dinner (slight mod).

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