Health care reform has now been upheld twice by the Supreme Court. It is time to accept its existence and validity. Yesterday’s decision recognized the political motivations behind the demands to strike down the law, a move that would have left over 6 million people without health insurance. Meanwhile, the dispute will be postponed for the 2016 presidential election.
It is unfortunate that this is the case, because the ruling should have ended the discussion over the constitutionality of the law and pave the way for improvements. Some of these could include changes such as addressing the worries of several millions of people who pay more for coverage now than they used to and who are tied up by high deductibles. A complex law like this one needs readjustments and recalibration.
It was clear that any interpretation of the four words in question could not go against the original spirit of the law and the original intentions of its legislators. This is a wise decision. Anything else would have left millions of people living in states led by Republican governors – who purposefully failed to create a local marketplace – without insurance. If the Supreme Court had suspended the subsidies, these Republicans would have found themselves in the difficult situation of explaining why they eliminated an existing coverage program benefiting millions.
The decision also helps keep the political discussion over Obamacare alive. Congress will repeat their futile efforts to strike down the law with the purpose of keeping the topic alive among its base. The truth is that there is no clear alternative with significant support. A serious attempt at legislation would stumble into the same paralyzing divisions among Republicans than in the case of immigration.
Additionally, the ruling will allow presidential candidates to attack Obamacare without adding much more to their proposal, which consists of nothing more than a return to the previous system – with a few positive changes, – that had insurance companies, not patients, deciding what the coverage would be.
Beyond political and ideological speculation, the reality is that the law exists and that its supporters are growing as they feel the benefits. Universal health coverage, as controversial as Medicare was in its day, is here to stay because it recognizes a person’s right to have a decent quality of life.