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SCOTUS: The Tax Man Cometh To Healthcare

In the coming weeks, months and years ahead there will be scholarly volumes written about yesterday’s landmark Supreme Court opinion. I’ve already read a few and there are many more to come – including this very short and far less scholarly one.

The mounting tension was palpable at last weeks annual America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) conference in Salt Lake City. The President and CEO of AHIP, Karen Ignagni, was anxious to highlight what she thought was an imminent Supreme Court decision during her opening remarks. Midway through those remarks an aide did in fact slip her a note. ”What a wonderfully dramatic moment,” she quipped as she opened the note. She then announced, “there is no decision today.” So much for the high drama. Little did we know that it would be a full week before the opinion would be announced. It finally did arrive – and now that it’s public – it sure seems to me to be a lot less breathtaking than even that brief suspense in Salt Lake City.

At least in laymen’s terms – and without diving headlong into all the legal justifications or implications – it appears relatively clear cut. The individual mandate was interpreted as a tax and therefore within Congressional powers to enact as legislation. Again, not a legal interpretation as much as a practical, pragmatic one. For the reasoned legal opinion there is perhaps none better than Mark A. Hall’s from August 2009 – Is It Unconstitutional To Mandate Health Insurance?

Read more here.