‘A victory for people all over this country’

‘A victory for people all over this country’ June 28, 2012

President Barack Obama:

Earlier today, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act — the name of the health care reform we passed two years ago. In doing so, they’ve reaffirmed a fundamental principle that here in America — in the wealthiest nation on Earth — no illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin.

I know there will be a lot of discussion today about the politics of all this, about who won and who lost. That’s how these things tend to be viewed here in Washington. But that discussion completely misses the point. Whatever the politics, today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it.

And because this law has a direct impact on so many Americans, I want to take this opportunity to talk about exactly what it means for you.

Yes. Well, not just for you, but for us — for everyone. For millions of strangers you’ll never meet.

And that’s part of what it means for you, singular. Because we are, in fact, “caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny” and “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” And so whether or not you, personally, singular, are among “the 30 million Americans who don’t yet have health insurance,” but will once this law is implemented, you are changed and improved because life for them will be changed and improved. Their benefit is also your benefit.

The president understands this:

I didn’t do this because it was good politics. I did it because I believed it was good for the country. I did it because I believed it was good for the American people.

There’s a framed letter that hangs in my office right now. It was sent to me during the health care debate by a woman named Natoma Canfield. For years and years, Natoma did everything right. She bought health insurance. She paid her premiums on time. But 18 years ago, Natoma was diagnosed with cancer. And even though she’d been cancer-free for more than a decade, her insurance company kept jacking up her rates, year after year. And despite her desire to keep her coverage — despite her fears that she would get sick again — she had to surrender her health insurance, and was forced to hang her fortunes on chance.

I carried Natoma’s story with me every day of the fight to pass this law. It reminded me of all the Americans, all across the country, who have had to worry not only about getting sick, but about the cost of getting well.

Natoma is well today. And because of this law, there are other Americans — other sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers — who will not have to hang their fortunes on chance. These are the Americans for whom we passed this law.

The highest Court in the land has now spoken. We will continue to implement this law. And we’ll work together to improve on it where we can.

We’ll need to improve on it, going forward. But not going backward is a Good Thing. And today is a good day.

Oh, and it’s also probably a good day for you — personally, singular — as well, as it’s quite likely you will personally and directly benefit from the implementation of the ACA as well:

First, if you’re one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance — this law will only make it more secure and more affordable. Insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime limits on the amount of care you receive. They can no longer discriminate against children with preexisting conditions. They can no longer drop your coverage if you get sick. They can no longer jack up your premiums without reason. They are required to provide free preventive care like check-ups and mammograms — a provision that’s already helped 54 million Americans with private insurance. And by this August, nearly 13 million of you will receive a rebate from your insurance company because it spent too much on things like administrative costs and CEO bonuses, and not enough on your health care.

There’s more. Because of the Affordable Care Act, young adults under the age of 26 are able to stay on their parent’s health care plans — a provision that’s already helped 6 million young Americans. And because of the Affordable Care Act, seniors receive a discount on their prescription drugs — a discount that’s already saved more than 5 million seniors on Medicare about $600 each. …

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  • Monala

    Today is a good day for the U.S. Not the best day–but a day we can build upon to make our country better.

  • HCSR

    Isn’t there still a long way to go with the legislation through congress?

  • Diez

     There are days when I honest-to-God want to become a Constitutional scholar.  To take classes and study the meaning and history of that document to extensive detail, JUST so I can talk to my relatives from a place of authority and try to help them understand the thing they claim to so ardently defend.

    Of course, if I did that, they’d probably just dismiss me as a high-brow intellectual elitist.  There really is no winning with willful ignorance.  *sigh*

  • The_L1985

    This is  the kind of news our country needs to hear right now.

    Now, let’s get to stopping the next Very Bad Thing!

  •  The Affordable Care Act was passed and signed into law just a few years ago.  So, no, nothing more to be done but to continue implementing it.

    Though I wouldn’t put it past the Republicans to try to find some way to repeal it or fight against the law since they’ve threatened to do it before.

    In other news, this is pretty dang awesome. I was pretty worried about this, especially since I’ve been waiting for the point to hit where I’d qualify for government assistance to receive health care.  I haven’t had health care since 2007, and it’s been a highly unpleasant and awful experience. Especially since I had to be hospitalized in 2008 – the costs overwhelming and absolutely unaffordable – but that year a kind, unnamed donor through my local church, paid the bill. I’ve been in and out of doctor offices since then – and those bills I had to pay out of pocket, meaning I had to choose to pay the medical system rather than buy enough food to eat. 

    It sucks when you have to choose between paying bills and eating, so this is a pretty dang huge victory for not only me but everyone in this country.

  • We’re looking in to getting health insurance now that they can no longer exclude me for having a pre-existing condition. Which would mean I could get surgery. Not to mention both of us simply having health insurance. Definitely a good day.

  • Mary Kaye

    I was really worried when I left home this morning.  My husband asked me about it and I wasn’t quite sure why–job worries, child’s health worries, husband’s health worries, I carry these every day.

    When I finally had time to go online this afternoon, I saw the decision and burst into tears of relief, and at that point I understood why I had been so worried.  Thank the gods.  It may not be right, but it’s better than what we would have otherwise.  There is a lot of illness among my father’s friends and relatives right now, and we can at least hope that the family will not be destroyed nor lives lost due to inability to pay.

    It really felt like the time I had a lump in my breast, and I was calm through the mammogram and the biopsy, and then burst into tears when I saw the “no cancer” result.  Like, you can’t allow yourself to really feel how awful it could be until you know it won’t be that awful, and then the dam breaks.

  • VMink

    Seen on Facebook today:

    Everyone on Facebook is about to become a Constitutional scholar.

    Let’s see if anyone frothing about this is able to give voice to what they’re so uptight about.

  • AnonymousSam

    Yeah, Romney has already said that if he becomes President, the first thing he’ll do is repeal this law.

  • It’s been a long time since I had hope for this country’s political system with any sense of the sheer optimism in November 08. There was a feeling that the future was going to be just a little brighter, or at least until groups like the tea party, and the sheer insanity that’s permeated our political discourse.

    Today, sitting here after a mind-numbing day at work, and despite all the flak I’m about to take from people in my family and friends who listen to Fox, I can see a bit of that far-off sunrise that I felt on Election day, four years ago.

    The future will be hard. It will be marred by people who are convinced their culture war is the sole consuming concern in the world.

    But in this moment, as long as this feeling of hope for the future lasts?

    It’s a good feeling to have.

  • Mau de Katt

    Also seen on Facebook today:  a link to an article on “People who want to flee to Canada to escape Obamacare.”

    Irony much?

  • Trixie_Belden

    What a relief!  I kept thinking, when the MSM seemed to have a drumbeat that repeal was all but certain, “But what about all the lower Federal Courts (some of them conservative!) that upheld the law?”  I don’t really have the energy to go back and retrace the routes the law took through the lower courts, but IIRC didn’t the government win more often than it lost?  Given that, the conservative certainty that the law didn’t have a leg to stand on made me think that they were the ones closing themselves inside an echo chamber.

    I’m surprised about Kennedy though. 

  • TheFaithfulStone

    Well, I kinda have to admit – I did NOT see that coming.  The ruling itself I think is a little weird – Roberts really went of his way to make it known that he wasn’t saying the commerce clause allowed this – which is odd.

    Personally, I think SG Verilli was saved by the skin of his teeth.  I’m not sure Roberts ruled the way he did (that the mandate was constitutional basically because the penalty was administered through the tax system – although in retrospect it seems obvious) or why SG Verilli didn’t do a better job in his arguments.  I actually see an opening for a legitimate challenge to the ACA there, in that you can be subject to the mandate, but not to the penalty – so the question is really “Do you get a penalty for not having insurance” or “Do you get a benefit equal to the penalty for having it?”  I think if the government tries to argue #1 they’re going to find themselves in a tough position.

    That said, I’m not particularly interested in “gloating” about this to conservatives – but I’m glad it was upheld, and I’m glad that we all didn’t have to think about the body count of Republican jurisprudence today.

  • Fusina

    As someone with a mother in law and sister in law who both have had breast cancer–in the case of sil, when she was very young, and being the mother of a daughter, I have been hoping very hard indeed that this would not be overturned. When I heard the news, all I could thinks was, “Power to the People!” And that my daughter will not run into trouble from insurance companies should she get breast cancer like her aunt and grandmother. I had no idea how much I wanted this to be ruled constitutional. And that is just my story. I expect there are lots others out there.

  • Ouri Maler

    Well what do you know! Good things DO happen!
    Seriously, that came as a relief (and I don’t even live in America). But I’ll admit I can’t help but wondering how it’ll affect politics over the coming months…

  • Tricksterson

    Just like Obama closed Gitmo and repealed the Patriot Act.

  • Tricksterson

    Blink.  Blink. … Bwahahahahahaha!

  • Tricksterson

    So how will this affect the Bishops Jihad if at all do you think?

  • AnonymousSam

    Problem is, I think the odds of a conservative Republican acting like a conservative Republican are slightly better than expecting a center-rightist acting like a liberal.

  • cjmr

    The USCCB has already released a statement WRT that.  Before noon, IIRC.

  •  My suspicion was that Verelli was so startled by the sudden realization that there were at least four votes to overturn 75 years of Commerce Clause jurisprudence and judicially overturn most of the 20th century that he panicked and choked.

  • Dan Audy

    I have to admit I was amazed that the ruling came out this way.  I truly believed that the supreme court would abandon its pretense of non-partisanship and throw itself into the partisan fray as the US already has with its lower courts (Seriously guys WTF are you thinking ELECTING judges).  

    It is so darn confusing when the world undercuts my cynicism like this.

  • JonathanPelikan

    (The line of thought probably has something to do with observing how a successful appointment to the Supreme Court is a life gig with absolutely no possibility of ever successfully removing them short of them coming out as a genetic clone of Hitler, and even then Republicans will stuff up the legal works to protect Hitler 2 to really stick it to the liberals and the negrists and the womens, and how these lifelong appointed officials wield both a giant public disinterest in them and their goings-on, opacity and secrecy, and unthinkable power.)

  • reynard61

    The problem that I have with this ruling can be found in these two sentences:

    “The federal government does not have the power to order people to buy health insurance,” (…) “The federal government does have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance.”

    Did you see the little poison pill that Roberts inserted? That’s right, he used the dreaded “T”-word. He called it a “tax”. Unfortunately now Grover Norquist and every “libertarian”, Teabagger and anti-tax Rethuglican is going to glom onto that second sentence and *demand* that that “tax” be either cut to the bone or straight-up eliminated — thus defunding the ACA. Pardon me if I sound paranoid, but I can’t help but feel that Roberts just pulled an end-run around President Obama (*and* the rest of us) by voting “in favor” of it.

  •  Well, it’s not like this is the only tax included in the ACA. It’s not even the biggest one; there are also excise taxes on tanning beds, taxes placed on expensive drugs and medical equipments, a Medicare tax hike, and additional fees and tax hikes on insurance companies. (Unlike Medicare Part D, the ACA is actually funded.)

    I doubt that it’s going to be a big deal, especially since it appears that most commentators didn’t even read the decision before sharing their opinions in it (and never even read a summary of the law, which is why they’re not sure what’s in it).

  • aunursa

    Your view is shared by some on the other side of the political spectrum.  Some Republicans are now referring to “ObamaCare” as “ObamaTax“.

    The latest RNC ad.

  •  67 for veto. And last I checked, still 53 democrats in the senate.

  • aunursa

    Which is why Romney said that if voters want to get rid of “Obamacare”, they have to get rid of Obama.

  •  Well, thank goodness then every single part of the bill polls well when voters are asked about them. Surprisingly enough, the notion of never being denied care again because of a pre existing condition (i.e. getting sick before) is quite popular.

    And the really awesome thing is that the bill will help all Americans. Even ones like you who cheered at the thought of millions of people going without health insurance, tens of thousands who would die from it each year.

  • Machiavelli, Discourses I.47: Though Men Make Mistakes about Things in General, they do not  make Mistakes about Particulars

    From time to time, a story appears about local governments that is very similar. There is a push to lower property or sales taxes and to cut the budget. And so a list of programs and events and whatnot is presented, but there is no majority for cutting any one of these because so many people either depend on or really like each of them. It is amazing how objectionable a vague entity can be when its parts are well-liked on their own.

  • aunursa

    It certainly sharpens the choice in this election.

    Democrats can point to the guaranteed coverage, no exclusions for pre-existing conditions, coverage for 26 year-old children, etc. — which are highly popular. 

    Republicans can point to the insurance mandate, broken middle-class tax increase pledge, loss of doctors, and harm to the federal budget and job growth — which are highly unpopular.

    A vote for Obama and Congressional Democrats is a vote to retain the PPACA.

    A vote for Romney and Congressional Republicans is a vote to repeal and replace the PPACA.

  •  Yes, you’re quite right that the Republicans can lie about it, and be cheered by people like you who see nothing wrong with 10,000s of people dying every year from an eminently solvable problem.

    And your last sentence is a lie. Romney and a hypothetical Republican Senate would repeal. But they wouldn’t replace. Their plan is the status quo before the bill. 10,000s of dead people and all.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    And that’s also why, in the past 24 hours, the RNC and the Romney campaign received more than 47,000 donations totaling $4.6 million.

    Huh. And here was I thinking it had something to do with the ridiculous partisanship in a country where tens of millions of people hold views about the government’s role in healthcare that would make citizens of other democracies ashamed of themselves.

  • TheFaithfulStone

    The other thing about that is that they could ONLY repeal the tax penalty for the mandate and not a lot of the other stuff, right?  They were able to pass the ENTIRE ACA because it was scored as a deficit reduction measure.

    The mandate is sort of pointless anyway, since the worst thing the gov’t can do is retain your refund.  Honestly, getting rid of the mandate and nothing else would probably be an okay outcome in someways.  The insurance industry is just not going to take that lying down – it would basically force Republicans into choosing between their corporate constituency and their ghoulish randroid constituency.