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OUR VIEW: Health care case is tricky


The American public might be frustrated when the U.S. Supreme Court takes up a challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly referred to by its opponents as Obamacare.

It won’t be a simple matter of “right vs. wrong,” which is the way most people think. For example, according to policymic.com, the first issue to be decided involves the Anti-Injunction Act of 1867. With this law, “courts are prohibited from striking down tax laws before they take effect,” says the article, and author Matthew Rozsa contends that the controversial mandate requiring individual insurance is a tax.

He notes that the mandate is contained in the federal tax code, and penalties are to be collected by the Internal Revenue Service.

Rozsa lists the political reasons conservatives want the case decided before Election Day in November. But if the Anti-Injunction Act takes precedence, no suit could be brought before the Supreme Court until after the mandate takes effect in 2014.

He notes that popular support for the conservative cause could dwindle as other pieces of the legislation kick in. “After January 1, 2014, provisions of PPACA will be implemented that will directly benefit large sections of the general public (the subsidization of insurance premiums for single adults and individuals with income up to 400 percent of the poverty line, the ban on insurance companies discriminating based on pre-existing medical conditions, the expansion of Medicaid eligibility to all individuals with income up to 133 percent of the poverty line, the establishment of health insurance exchanges), thereby significantly weakening the movement to eliminate the bill,” he writes.

We’re leery of the PPACA’s effect on medical costs, which is hard to predict. We like the basic protections, and the individual mandate doesn’t strike us as overly intrusive.

Like everyone else, we want to get to the heart of the issue – but legal technicalities do come first.

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