wpostServer: http://css.washingtonpost.com/wpost2

Most Read: Opinions

direct signup

Today’s Opinions poll

Should Congress deal with the immigration crisis -- tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors at the border -- before its August recess?

Submit
Next
Review your answers and share
Post Partisan
Posted at 02:25 PM ET, 06/28/2012

John Roberts, insurance industry shill


Conservatives are predictably pillorying Chief Justice John Roberts as a traitor or worse. But constitutional arguments aside, anyone who understands health policy and insurance markets knows that Roberts’s historic hand on the scale Thursday was the only way to preserve a central role for private insurers in American health care in the years ahead. In this sense, Roberts’ epic choice is therefore not only small “c” conservative as a matter of judicial temperament but economically conservative to boot. What the chief justice has done is nothing less than save shortsighted partisans bent on overturning Obamacare from themselves.

As I and others have long argued, a successful drive to overturn the Affordable Care Act, combined with a continued surge in the ranks of the uninsured, would almost certainly have put America on a path to a single-payer system, about whose constitutionality there has never been any doubt. The only way to move toward universal coverage via private health plans is to require everyone to be in the insurance pool and to offer subsidies to lower-income folks who’d otherwise be unable to buy a policy. Conservatives understood these facts and supported this approach until President Obama decided to adopt their ideas and put real money behind them.

There are therefore so many policy ironies accompanying Thursday’s decision that its hard to keep track. The left is (rightly) cheering the vindication of Romneycare, which the president now has a legal green light to take national. Mitt Romney is assailing his own pioneering policy and vowing to scrap it at the federal level if he gets the chance. And Roberts is being trashed by supposed champions of the private sector, whose role in health-care finance has in fact been preserved by Roberts’s surprise switcheroo. That may not have been the chief justice’s intent — his real motives and reasoning in this historic exercise of power may be known only to his wife — but it’s the result. If conservatives had any sense of their long-term interests they’d be thanking him.

For more on the Supreme Court ruling:

Topic A: What does the decision mean?

Jonathan Bernstein: Obamacare lives, but much fighting lies ahead

Stephen Stromberg: Court saves U.S. from policy pileup

Erik Wemple: CNN, Fox blows their first reaction to the health-care ruling

Kathleen Parker: Winning the day with deceit

Ed Rogers: Obama won ugly, and only temporarily

Carter Eskew: Supreme Court decision gives new life to President Obama

Jennifer Rubin: Turning the political and legal world upside down

Greg Sargent: Supreme Court sides with federal power

Full text of the Supreme Court ruling

By  |  02:25 PM ET, 06/28/2012

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company