Justice Roberts’ health-care decision consistent (but bad)

John Howell
Athens News
July 11, 2012

To the Editor:

Chief Justice John Roberts has gotten a lot of attention since he went with the Supreme Court liberals in upholding the Affordable Care Act. Folks on the right are furious with Roberts for his inconsistency in supporting the conservative agenda.

In at least one sense, however, Roberts has been very consistent. He has been consistent in supporting corporate interests over public interest. Just as the Citizens United decision, supported by Roberts, opened the way for corporations to pour money into election campaignsTags in order to make sure that elected officials look after their interests (bribery made legal), the Affordable Care Act also favors corporate over public interest. As Arlene Sheak pointed out in her letter of July 5, private insurance companies will make over $1 trillion under the features of this plan that requires everyone to purchase insurance.

There are two ways to reduce health-care costs in the country: 1) change the way medicine is practiced, and 2) get the insurance companies out of the health-care business.

We spend about twice as much on health care compared to other countries (as a fraction of GDP) without getting better health care. Other countries have state-run insurance systems like our Medicare system to cover everyone, not just the elderly. This keeps private insurers and their high overheads on the sidelines.

If we want the public to be served in health care, and to cut costs, we need a single-payer plan, not the Affordable Care Act. A single-payer plan doesn’t force anyone to purchase insurance from a private insurer, but it does require payment via taxes, just as Social Security does. Health care would be extended to all, and total costs would decrease.

While many on the right are upset with Chief Justice Roberts for finding a way to support the Act, many others are relieved that the high court upheld the Act, simply because it will provide insurance coverage for many who are currently uninsured. The right wants to repeal the Act, which would be fine, if it’s replaced with a reasonable system, such as the single-payer plan. To repeal it without replacing it would be tantamount to murder, as many more people will die prematurely from lack of access to health care.

John Howell
Democracy Over Corporations
Clarks Chapel Road

NOTE: The caption on the letter, Justice Roberts’ health-care decision consistent (but bad), was the editor’s, not mine.

As the letter points out, the decision was good in that it permits expansion of health care coverage, but it also has a dark side, namely continued welfare for the health insurance industry, and failure to provide 1) the much broader coverage, and 2) the total savings that would come from adoption of a single payer plan.

The “but bad” put in by the editor is unfortunate; it oversimplifies, as the media is prone to do. 

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