A group of fifty doctors along with the non-profits groups, Single Payer Action and Our Economy, filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court arguing that the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act should be struck down. From Single Payer Action’s blog:
The doctors are challenging the government’s claim that the individual mandate is necessary to reach Congress’ goal of universal coverage.
“The court should decide the constitutionality of the individual mandate based on the best available evidence,” said attorney Oliver Hall.
“That’s why it is so important that these medical doctors provide the court with the information in their brief, which demonstrates that Congress can address the United States’ healthcare crisis by adopting a single payer system.”
“It is not necessary to force Americans to buy private health insurance to achieve universal coverage,” said Russell Mokhiber of Single Payer Action. “There is a proven alternative that Congress didn’t seriously consider, and that alternative is a single payer national health insurance system.”
The brief argues that Congress doesn’t need the new power to compel individuals to buy a product from a private company to effectively regulate the healthcare marketplace. It can easily do so with its current approaches, such as a single payer system, which is used for Medicare. The individual mandate is therefore neither a “necessary” nor “reasonable” expansion of authority to achieve the government’s stated objectives.
The policy argument for the individual mandate has always been extremely dubious. If the government wants everyone to be covered by health insurance, an individual mandate is an ineffective tool that will never fully achieve that goal. Other methods that have the government just directly provide insurance for those without insurance with very basic coverage would do a significantly better job. Congress only needs the mandate, because it actively chose not to use one of several more effective alternatives that are indisputably constitutional.
From March 26-28 the Supreme Court will be hearing 5 1/2 hours of oral arguments on the constitutionality of the ACA. This is one of a flood of amicus briefs filed for what is sure to be one of the most closely watched Supreme Court cases of the 21st Century.