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A US federal judge in Texas ruled on Friday that the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is unconstitutional, a decision that was likely to be appealed to the supreme court.

US district judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth agreed with a coalition of 20 states that a change in tax law last year eliminating a penalty for not having health insurance invalidated the entire Obamacare law.

I think Obamacare was a bad idea, badly implemented. That it might be unconstitutional could also be true – it was such a kludge that it wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Gonna be fun.

15 thoughts on “Oooops”

  1. Put icing on the cake with criminal charges on Obama, Holder and the gang. Treason still carries the death penalty over there does it not?

  2. A big thank you to Kevin for the link to that interesting commentary. Its content does give rise to a certain English smugness that even the elected US Senate and written US Constitution now appears to be suffering from the lack of something analogous to a Salisbury Convention.

  3. Alan – another interesting parallel is that the US version of the Conservatives campaigned vociferously for years on repealing ACA, but when voters gave them control over both parts of the legislature, and the executive, suddenly they couldn’t get it done.

    Almost as if they never had any intention of honouring their election promises. Almost as if the two-party system is a fraud, and Establishment cons view their own voters with contempt.

    See also: Brexit, the “bonfire of the quangos”, decades of pledges to reduce immigration, etc. The true political divide in the West isn’t between left and right, but between an increasingly odious and hostile establishment and the general public.

  4. True, Steve. Washington has become quite comfortable with statist control.

    Americans were floored by Chief Justice Roberts declaring that Obamacare was a tax, and therefore within the powers of government.

    Fast Forward>> Congress, being nice guys, amended Obamacare to take the penalties . . . uhh, ‘tax’ . . . off. BUT, in so doing, they made a fundemental change in Obamacare, rendering it not a tax anymore, and, therefore, unconstitutional.

    So, now we will see if the Republican Congress will scramble to put the tax back on – to SAVE OBAMACARE!

  5. Hold on, under ObamaCare you either paid for insurance or you paid a fine? Isn’t the very fact of not having insurance enough of a punishment?

  6. As I understand it jgh is right- with the proviso that you had to buy an approved form of insurance. Without the tax what is to stop people from taking out non approved insurance if that is their preference?
    The trouble will come from paying for the system. Without the income from the tax and more importantly the income from people who would otherwise not insure the scheme is not financially viable. It basically depends on overcharging some people in order to subsidise others, and if those who think themselves overcharged are free to leave there will be a problem financing the subsidies.
    That 51% like the scheme is an indication of how many receive subsidies.

  7. Ranting Karl Denninger’s “The Market Ticker” blog has at least two merits. He’s very clear that (i) the proportion of US GDP spent on “health care” is absurdly high, and (ii) the principal reason is commercial activity that is simply criminal in light of the law of the land. (Presumably the reason that they all get off with it is that politicians come cheap in the US.)

    I wouldn’t dream of recommending to USians what they should do instead, though I am ready to recommend what they shouldn’t do. They shouldn’t copy the NHS. There must be a score of better ways to realise the advantages that the NHS is meant to bring.

  8. jgh


    If you didn’t have insurance you got treated anyway.

    You got billed, but if you were a poor person, you simply never paid.

  9. “There must be a score of better ways to realise the advantages that the NHS is meant to bring.”

    Yes, its quite simple – allow people to add private insurance to whatever payment the State will pay for your care today, instead of the insane system we have in the UK that says you can have whatever care the NHS deigns to give you for free, or entirely privately paid for care but no mix of the two. Which at a stroke destroys the private medical system for anyone other than the uber-wealthy.

    Ideally one would also remove the hospitals from public ownership and keep the State’s involvement purely one of ‘national insurance’ – collecting taxes (premiums) and paying out when people have healthcare bills that need paying. But if that scares the horses just the allowing of a mix of private and public funding for care should be enough to kickstart a far greater private medical system, which in turn should remove pressure from the public system.

    A proper insurance based healthcare model (as used in those bastions of neoliberal free market capitalism, France and Germany) even if the national insurance part was entirely State run and funded from taxation would also have the added advantage of reducing freeloading entirely as every patient would have to provide some form of insurance details when using the healthcare system, even if its the State provided insurance. No State Healthcare Account Number, no treatment, unless you pay cash. Or rather it would be up to the providers to get the insurance details – if they want to provide care and not get paid for it, that would be up to them. I think they’d soon be asking for insurance details when the reality of where their salaries came from sank in.

  10. “There must be a score of better ways to realise the advantages that the NHS is meant to bring.”

    The pre-WW2 penny-in-the-pound health insurance run by Sheffield Council, the Forresters Health Fund, the Oddfellows, the Seamen’s Missions, the Friends’ Provident, the Tredegar Workmen’s Medical Aid Society, British United Provident Association, The Highlands and Islands Medical Service, many many more…. all “non-profits”, many benefiting from being run by and funded people the patients knew and/or were related to, so self-regulated freeloaders. All successful until swept away by the centralising state.

  11. Bloke in North Dorset

    For all it’s faults Obama care is better than what it replaced in the minds of a lot of people.

    For all their ranting the GOP couldn’t figure out how to replace it and have now lost the opportunity.

    Obama care is now the default in the same way the NHS is in this country and the GOP will find there’s no votes in calling for its end unless they have a better solution, even then it will be a hard sell.

    That’s how the lefty ratchet works.

  12. The simplest thing that could have been done is to declare/require *all* health insurance to be group insurance, rather than individual insurance.

    Then the existing rules would have made it impossible to drop an individual, or to increase rates on an individual, or to refuse an individual.

    Two other things to do:

    (i) declare that there existed a group of all legal residents of the USA
    (ii) folk without the ability to pay could be refused treatment.

    This would have had the beneficial effects of Obamacare without the complexity or the stupidities (eg wimmins over 60 being insured agin birth complications …)

    The “no dollars, no treatment” is a little harsh, but necessary. Its nastiness could be sharply reduced by ensuring that all state/federal/local aid included appropriate means for funding health insurance for the truly poor.

    Soft-hearted people would be encouraged to form charities to help the unfortunate.

  13. Which at a stroke destroys the private medical system for anyone other than the uber-wealthy.

    For chronic conditions, yes. But although private health insurance isn’t exactly cheap, it’s not that expensive.

    Unless, of course, you have a range of chronic conditions …

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