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Court decision shifts question to appropriate place
Sen. Ben Nelson has good reason to feel vindicated in taking the stance that probably cost him his Senate seat, his insistence that states not be saddled with exploding Medicaid costs, a position that came to be called the "Cornhusker Kickback."
While it came across as a special exception for Nebraska in exchange for the deciding vote on Obamacare, Nelson has maintained he was opposed to the law's threat to withhold all of states' Medicaid funding if they fail to expand the program along federal guidelines.
The Supreme Court agrees, as it turns out, striking that provision as unduly coercive.
"Sometimes, the irony of all ironies occurs," Nelson told the Associated Press.
In another irony, the fact that the individual mandate was a tax -- something the administration insisted it was not, while it was trying to get healthcare reform through Congress -- was what saved Obamacare from the shredder.
The Supreme Court didn't buy the argument that the Commerce Clause of the Constitution permitted the government to mandate health care insurance. However, Bush appointee Chief Justice John G. Roberts did buy the administration's Plan B argument, that the government did have the right to tax those who decided not to buy health insurance.
Meanwhile, money has been pouring into the Romney campaign since the ruling, and Gov. Dave Heineman is vowing to fight expansion of Medicaid, saying it would rob funding from education or force taxes to increase.
Thursday's ruling was also a reaffirmation of the high court's role as an interpreter of the laws, despite Nelson's repeated co-opting of Republican cries of judicial activism, not a body to pass judgement on the wisdom of the health care law.
"Those decisions are entrusted to our nation's elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them," Roberts wrote. "It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices."
The system worked as it should, shifting the question of expanded health care back to the executive and legislative branches, and ultimately to the people who are in the end responsible for their own healthcare, the citizens themselves.
Will they trash the whole program, including popular provisions like keeping children on parents' policies until age 26 and ending lifetime benefit limits and denial of insurance for pre-existing conditions? Will they throw out the leaders responsible for Obamacare as well?
Will they elect leaders who vow to repeal the healthcare act, will those leaders be able to repeal the act, and with what will they replace it?
Only the voters can shape those answers, and that is how it should be.