Robert Reich says there's still hope even if the Supreme Court strikes down the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act:
A Back Door to the Public Option, by Robert Reich: Any day now the Supreme Court will issue its opinion on the constitutionality of the Accountable Care Act, which even the White House now calls Obamacare.
Most high-court observers think it will strike down the individual mandate in the Act that requires almost everyone to buy health insurance,... but will leave the rest of the new healthcare law intact.
But the individual mandate is so essential to spreading the ... cost of health care over the whole population, including younger and healthier people, that some analysts believe a Court decision that nixes the mandate will effectively spell the end of the Act anyway.
Yet it could have exactly the opposite effect. If the Court strikes down the individual mandate, health insurance company lobbyists and executives will swarm Capitol Hill seeking to have the Act amended to remove the requirement that they insure people with pre-existing medical conditions. They’ll argue that without the mandate they can’t afford to cover pre-existing conditions.
But the requirement to cover pre-existing conditions has proven to be so popular with the public that Congress will be reluctant to scrap it. This opens the way to a political bargain. Insurers might be let off the hook, for example, only if they support allowing every American, including those with pre-existing conditions, to choose ... something very much like Medicare. In effect, what was known during the debate over the bill as the “public option.” ...
The fact is, there’s enough the public likes about Obamacare that if the Court strikes down the individual mandate that won’t be the end. It will just be the end of the first round.
I'd like to think he's right, but hard for me to see this happening. [Here's an old post explaining why an individual mandate is needed.]