Thoughts on today’s Affordable Care Act ruling

I was going to be interviewed by the AP today about my response to the Supreme Court ruling, thanks to the health insurance comic I drew for Kaiser Health News. After preparing some remarks, I was told that the article was running long and they didn’t need further commentary. So, in an effort to make ye olde proverbial lemonade, I’ll share my thoughts here.

Like most people, I was stunned by the ruling.  I never thought I’d say this, but it’s possible that John Roberts just saved me a shit-ton of money. Believe me, I have no love for private insurance companies, but the mandate is a positive step forward as we work toward single-payer.

At the same time, I don’t particularly feel a sense of relief. I’m dreading the ongoing political battles that lie ahead, and wish this could just be over. The mandate will be framed as a burdensome tax, and ACA supporters need to make very clear that it’s a cost-control measure that ultimately benefits us all. It’s a way of improving a grossly inefficient system. (Also, people: please stop using the stupid term “Obamacare.” Have we not learned anything about framing in all these years?)

Another reason I feel uneasy is that the SCOTUS decision was a frighteningly close shave — the other four justices would have struck down the act in its entirely! That’s radicalism in your face, and it’s something we’ll have to contend with for a generation or more. But for today, I’ll let myself celebrate.


  • Lockwood

    I basically agree. I can’t comprehend the act in its entirety, though the components I do understand seem good to me. On the other hand, as I commented on Twitter a little while ago, “As a person too poor to dependably purchase food, still trying to figure out how to comply with ACA.. Would like to see Dr. occasionally.”

  • Marion Delgado

    Your cartoon was so good that, I’m sorry to say, my first thought was “Damn, she’s married! :(

    It’s an event in cartoons, IMO. Stupid AP!

  • Candace Jackson

    I think the ACA is a monumental step in the right direction, but has become a political tool. Politicians and pundits have used it to scare and mislead people. The majority of people who oppose it have picked a particular portion of the ACA that they don’t like, ignoring the big picture. Most people who oppose are also Republicans and might have had a different opinion had the President not been a Democrat. Mitt Romney said he would repeal the ACA. He’s a smart man and must know how costly that would be. He would probably agree with it if he were not running for President, and probably won’t repeal it if he becomes President.

  • Kevin Moore

    Romney may be smart, but he is heartless. He’d repeal the whole thing if it kept him in good graces with teabaggers.

    What this ruling means is that I can look forward to fights over real universal health care around the time I reach retirement age – in oh, about twenty or thirty years. Not that I actually expect to retire. My social security benefits will probably feed my pets.

  • Elmore

    I share your ambivalence, for the fight is far from over. We’ll certainly hear lots and lots of candidates for Congress vowing “I will repeal Obamacare” in their campaign ads this summer and fall.

    But I am sort of enjoying the hysteria on the right at the moment. My more right-wing Face Book friends are howling that the world has come to an end, and so on. On NPR yesterday they interviewed some Tea Party dipshit who’s running for Congress in Florida, and he called Chief Justice Roberts a traitor and a villain whom conservatives will never, ever forgive. All very entertaining.

  • Tom

    We’re hearing wailing and lamentation from right-wingers (I try not to use the term “conservatives” because many of them are simply not conservative, in the classic sense) who have no idea this came out of right-wing think tanks and was pushed by Republicans — until the black guy endorsed it.

    Another thing that amazes me is that nobody ever considers that one reason for national health care is for a strong military. That’s why European nations got started before we did, because their security depended on mobilizing the maximum number of men. In World War II an astonishing 50% of men called to service were rejected because of such things as myopia or malnutrition. Fifty percent! Jen hit the nail when she said that President Barack Obama should have called it something like the “Patriotic Real Balls Health Act.”

    I’m hoping – but not optimistic – that it will go the way of the previous end-of-freedom wailing that was heard when child labor was outlawed, when segregated schools were outlawed, when black folks were allowed to vote, and when seat-belt laws were passed.

    I do have to smile at the Teanuts wailing about Justice Roberts. They’re devouring their own!

  • Mike Peterson

    Having seen how close it was, having seen how the rightwing justices were so ready to trash the whole thing, my fear right now is about turnout in November. I’m particularly worried that the purists, the perfectionists, the idealists who are so angry with Obama will stay home. We don’t need him to be perfect. We aren’t going to get a perfect president. But we need a president who is not Mitt Romney, who is not in the Koch Brothers’ pocket, who is not beholden to the Tea Party. And we need a massive turnout, or Scalia and Thomas will gain a majority for the forseeable future. If that doesn’t scare the **** out of you, you’re not paying attention.

  • Roger Bloyce

    Those paying attention, however, can’t help but have noticed that Obama has failed follow through with his campaign promises, has ignored polls showing substantial disapproval of his military aggression, and has inexplicably moved to the right in response to the Republican party’s nihilism.
    Obama has had nothing substantive to say about Wall Street thieves (who still rake in millions) and even has advisers who helped foster the 2008 financial meltdown. He has failed to speak out for the obvious need to increase fiscal spending here and in Europe to stimulate economic growth and increase employment, and has not proposed substantial federal programs to repair the infrastructure, increase the minimum wage, extend unemployment benefits, or provide aid to the states, particularly to save the jobs of teachers and welfare workers.
    His healthcare act, after it’s reprieve by John Roberts, still leaves Americans with the worst medical insurance among the developed countries. It was enacted after the Democratic chairman of a Senate committee with no representation by single-payer proponents did not allow single-payer proponents even to speak, despite a well-respected poll indicating that 67% the electorate wanted single-payer health care.
    The leader of the western world has had almost nothing to say about global warming, and in particular the oil industry’s current media campaign to convince Americans of unsubstantiated claims that environmentally disastrous hydraulic fracturing will create thousands of jobs, stimulate the economy, and make the U.S. energy independent.
    He has maintained the military prison at Guantanamo, which continues to torture prisoners and deny them habeas corpus, extended and escalated our attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan, provided unqualified support to Israel, and given free passes to Bush administration war criminals such as John Yoo (currently a law professor at the University of California), who provided Dick Cheney with legal justification for waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation” techniques, and claimed that the Bush warrantless wiretapping program was legal and that the president was not bound by the War Crimes Act.
    During the first two years of his administration, with Democratic majorities in both houses and the country drifting in a sea of media misinformation, Obama, entranced by his own public speaking ability, just went along for the ride, At a time when America’s actions have vital importance to all people on earth, he is, alas, a leader totally incapable of leading.
    Memo to Brian Bittner, Office Manager of the Green Party, which will hold its national Presidential Nominating Convention in Baltimore from July 12 to July 15: Never in history has there been a greater opportunity for a third-party candidate to become President of the United States. If you and your colleagues can’t manage to generate any media interest whatever in the Green Party, its principles, and its three announced candidates, for God’s sake resign.

Jen Sorensen is a nationally-published political cartoonist. She is a 2017 Pulitzer Finalist and recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.