The name, Mary Brown, may become as famous as the eponymous Roe and Wade from the abortion ruling. Mary Brown is the appellant in an upcoming Supreme Court case that is aiming to have ‘Obamacare’ declared unconstitutional. The Properly Named Healthcare Reform Law came into effect in 2010 but Mary Brown; a small business trade association and three other people are appealing to the Nation’s top justices to rule against the insurance mandate clause of the act. Mary is committed to getting out from under the government thumb that is forcing her to buy health insurance.
Well, that was the idea way back when, before Mr. and Mrs. Brown went broke. They were well to do, when they filed the lawsuit but their car repair business in Florida has since filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy support. Particularly galling for the Browns will be the publication of the detailed debts they are asking the federal court to write off. This amounts to nearly $60,000. They include, ironically enough, some $4,485 to a Florida hospital and some other state medical specialists. This is exactly the kind of situation that the Healthcare Reform act was designed to help with. Mary Brown could end up as the poster model for the government rather than the standard-bearer for individual liberty.
Americans who have medical care without being insured, or are under the insured pile up $60 million per annum in unpaid bills. Those bills are covered from federal taxes and cross subsidization by other patients, who can pay. The ‘individual mandate’ is the mechanism that lawmakers enacted to ask people to cover their health costs. It is expected to cut medical non-payment and cross subsidization. And it is the mandate that Mary Brown says is unconstitutional. Of course without the mandate, Mrs. Brown hopes the whole law will fail to work as it is intended.
The mandate is a key part of the government’s insurance reforms that also stop companies from turning away patients with preexisting illnesses and aim to keep the cost of premiums at an affordable level. To close the loophole where people could register for coverage when ill but let it go unpaid when healthy. Congress has demanded all adult Americans keep up with health insurance payments or pay a tax penalty.
A lot of the healthcare reforms within the act’s aim to cut back the inflation rate of medical expenses while at the same time improving the care itself. These aims and the relevant provisions are still valid, even if the Supreme Court throws out the mandate. If this were to happen, the law would not collapse but Congress would have to find an alternative mechanism to prevent people from playing the system by not paying up when they can.
Republican lawmakers have tabled a number of alternate ways to do this, including fines and sensible waiting periods for folks looking to insure only when they require medical help. The Brown sides are attacking the wrong symptom, in the mandate, but they have a genuine cause for concern over the cost’s illness. The Act could be better at giving people more flexibility in cost cutting through targeted insurance against the bigger risk factors. The lawmakers could also have done more to hold back the costs of medical health. However, these two considerations are reasons to improve the Act not to take the Brown nuclear option.