The unenthusiastic reception of Baucuscare might mean that we’re back with the House’s svelte, 1,000 + page monstrosity. Forbes columnist and University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein has come up with a good way to describe the bill: “that grotesque confection.”
Hidden in the massive pudding, Epstein explains, are rules and regulations that are radical, would turn health insurance companies into public utilities, and won’t live up to the president’s promises:
To see how revolutionary the legislation is, first note how H.R. 3200 eviscerates President Obama’s oft-repeated promise that “if you like your current health care program, keep it.” Yes, but only for a day. The House’s “grandfathering” provision of existing plans is gutted by grotesquely restricted limitations. Stable health plans necessarily experience a turnover in enrollees, in policy provisions and in prices. But Section 102 of the House Bill allows any of these commonplace events to knock out grandfather status. Add one new employee to the rolls, and the plan is no longer grandfathered.
From day one all private health plans face this Hobson’s choice: Either go through the government exchange or go it alone. That freedom, however, comes at a steep price, as H.R. 3200 offers the carrots of fancy tax and affordability credits only to employers who go through the government exchange. Simultaneously, it heaps heavy payroll taxes on plans that steer clear of its clutches.
There is only one avenue to preventing such catastrophe, according to Epstein:
Let us hope therefore that these regulated firms can challenge H.R. 3200 in court before it grinds them to dust. For that challenge to succeed the Supreme Court can no longer overlook the broad danger that vast delegated powers pose to the simple “rule of law” values like simplicity and consistency. It cannot indulge in the fiction that the flaws in the basic structure will be corrected by intelligent administration. It must keep an entire industry from falling prey to an arbitrary, balky and untested administrative process that wrecks one-sixth of the economy. It can’t let firms be driven to inertia until the HCC sorts through the pile of applications on its desk. Wake up, Supreme Court! H.R. 3200 does nothing to facilitate new entry, to control health care costs, ease medical malpractice burdens–or ironically to help the uninsured population. The bill is political and economic madness. Accordingly, judicial invalidation is a moral and social necessity—unless Congress comes to its senses first.