Statement on the Supreme Court Decision on the Affordable Care Act (aka, “Obamacare”)

Democratic Socialists of America, June 29, 2012

The DSA National Political Committee (NPC) welcomes the 5-4 Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”). The decision affirms the right of Congress to legislate in the interest of the general welfare of the American people.

We applaud the gains for ordinary American families that will come with the ACA. Over ten million members of moderate income families will gain coverage under Medicaid; millions of young Americans between the age of 21 and 26 will be able to stay on their parents’ insurance; children and adults with pre-existing conditions will now be covered by the same policies as those deemed by insurers to be “healthy”; and over one hundred million Americans will now be free of lifetime expenditure limits on their coverage.

DSA also recognizes, however, that the ACA will fail to curtail ever-rising health care costs driven by the profit-seeking of private insurers and private health-care providers. Only a single-payer or “Medicare for All” system would provide truly affordable universal coverage by granting a single public insurer bargaining leverage over private providers.

Therefore, DSA will work with the health care activist community to transition the ACA towards a single-payer system. We will join the fight for single-payer at the state level and for the reintroduction of a public option at the federal level.

Progressives, in the short run, must also pressure Congress to appropriate sufficient subsidies to enable uninsured moderate income families to purchase affordable insurance. Otherwise, the anti-“free rider” mandated fee will become a resented burden on those families that still cannot afford to purchase private insurance. We must also organize in favor of Congressional regulations that would prevent corporations from dropping existing health insurance coverage for their employees (in order to switch the course of coverage onto the general public).

DSA also worries that the Court’s rejection of the commerce clause as a justification for national health care legislation may be part of the conservative court’s effort to whittle away at the commerce clause’s use to justify the momentous labor rights legislation of the 1930s and the civil rights laws of the 1960s. Democratic socialists recognize that only strong federal regulation of corporate behavior can insure that the economy serves the people rather than the people serving the interests of corporate masters.

Even though Justice Roberts may have made his “switch in time” on the ACA to refute the charge that he presides over an ideological, political, and conservative Supreme Court, DSA recognizes that the overall direction of the Court (as manifested by the other decisions handed down this week in the Arizona immigration, Montana corporate contributions, and the SEIU union assessment cases) threatens to overturn 80 years of jurisprudence and declare almost all social legislation unconstitutional, including minimum wage and child labor laws.