Howard Dean is just wrong on the Insurance Mandate

Howard Dean has been making the rounds on the news circuit claiming that the Supreme Court should throw out the individual mandate but keep the rest of the law.

Here is the problem. If you keep every other part of the law but toss out the mandate, it cannot work. In order to understand the rest of this post you need to understand the concept of anti selection. If that link is too long for you to read, the simple explanation is this. If there is no reason for an individual to buy insurance when well, people will just wait to buy insurance until they are sick. This would mean that the only people buying insurance would be those making claims and insurance companies would become no more than really expensive discount plans. It would ultimately drive insurance companies out of business, leaving more people uninsured.

Now, the insurance companies previously compensated for this possibility with the preexisting condition clause. It basically protected the insurance companies from people who would just wait until they were sick to buy insurance. Now, these clauses were misused and abused by insurance companies. That is one of the reasons they were eliminated in the healthcare law. However, there needed to be a way to counter anti selection and the way to accomplish this was the individual mandate. With a mandate, people cannot practice anti selection because they are required to have insurance.

Since Former Governor Dean supports the elimination of preexisting condition clauses (because he wants the rest of the law intact), supports the elimination of the mandate, and has not provided us with another way to avoid anti selection, he has proven himself to not understand the issue enough and really should just be ignored on this issue. (And that is pretty sad seeing his background in Medicine, he really should understand this issue much better).

Now, Former Governor Dean is welcome to present another way to prevent anti selection that would be more popular than a mandate and incapable of being abused by insurance companies. If he presents a valid way to do so, we could replace the mandate with his way. However, if the mandate is ruled unconstitutional while keeping the rest of the law intact, until that alternative way is found we will have anti selection and that would just be very bad.

I know Dean wants single payer, but win the argument by convincing enough people that single payer is the right way to go. Don’t completely break the system harming many in the short term.

And you know the worst part of all of Dean’s ranting about this is? He doesn’t even give a legal reason WHY the mandate should be overturned. He just wants it to be. (And that likely because is that there is no legal reason why it should be overturned. It is an amendment to the tax code. Congress has the authority to change the tax code).


People I won’t debate the mandate of birth control coverage with.

There are a lot of people raising religious liberty arguments about the mandate to cover oral contraception in all health insurance plans. Now, if you want to see why I support coverage of oral contraception, read here.

But there is one group of people who I wont debate this issue with: People who wish to ban oral contraceptives for religious reasons. You cannot tell me that something is a violation of your religious beliefs in one breath and then seek to push your religious beliefs on other people in another and then expect me to participate in a debate with you on why you feel your religious beliefs are being trampled.

Flush the T-P down the toilet!

There is a movement growing to save the New Orleans based newspaper Times Picayune from becoming a 3 day a week only paper. People want this paper to be a daily paper and are upset that they wont have access to the daily news. Me? I say let it die.

And this is not just about my personal annoyance with them when they reported me as a Republican twice in the 2004 Congressional race. I mean, that is part of the problem. A lack of professionalism is the only explanation for that kind of error. It is not like the information was wrong on the ballot or on the website. That information was all correct. The T-P was just so sloppy that not only did they get it wrong on the Sunday paper, but they got it wrong on the Tuesday paper after I called to correct them.

But this is not just about me. This is about the direction that the media has taken. The Times Picayune used to be a local paper. Now it is owned by a media conglomerate. It used to be that reporters would embrace their duty to inform. Now, with profit being the main driving factor in the media, the duty to inform takes a back seat to making sure that those politicians who will buy advertising will not be mad at your coverage.

So I say flush the T-P. Make it so unprofitable that Advance has to sell it. Then perhaps they will sell it to a local company who will make it into the paper that it should be. Until then, it is not worth saving.

Rulings in two cases, good results but bad logic

Yesterday the Supreme Court rejected an appeal by a few birthers after the 9th circuit court of appeals ruled against them. There are many reasons to reject these crazy birther cases. You have all the instances where birthers have presented fake documents in order to try and discredit President Obama. You have the fact that the onus is on those bringing the case to prove they are right and they have no such proof to do so. You have the existing documents on record proving Obama’s birth in Hawaii (which makes him a natural born citizen because he is a citizen by the nature of his birth).

But what did the 9th circuit hang its ruling on? They ruled that the birthers lacked standing to bring the case. They couldn’t prove that they would suffer harm from the Obama presidency. Now, I do have a problem with that logic. Every single citizen of the USA, at least of voting age, should have legal standing to question the qualifications of the President. Let me be clear, when they do so they need to be able to present some proof to show that their case is valid. It is not enough to say “I don’t believe it because I havn’t seen the hard copy version of his birth certificate”. But if someone were to ever have actual proof of something against any President, that person should be able to have standing to present it.

The other case is the recent ruling against DOMA. DOMA should be ruled unconstitutional. If a couple is married in a state that allows marriage for all and cannot receive the federal benefits that other married couples can get, it should be ruled to be a violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution. But the court didn’t go that route. The court said it interfered with the right of a state to define marriage as it sees fit.

I have three big problems with that. First of all, states do not have rights. States have powers, people have rights. Second of all, states should not have the power to define marriage if that definition violates any part of the Constitution. This ruling basically affirms the ability of a state to discriminate when it comes to marriage. Finally, as I said before, the equal protection clause should be all that is needed here.

So while it is good that the birther case got thrown out and it is good that DOMA lost again in court, I worry that the way they went down will ultimately be problematic.