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The Headache
Discussion of Issues that Make Your Head Hurt
What's the deal with this Affordable Care Act (ACA) thing?
Published 11/12/20 by arakouzo [0 Comments]

Health care is is an over-hyped media issue. Ice cream is not. To avoid headaches and hype, let's think about ice cream.

Let's imagine that the government wants to make sure that affordable ice cream is available to everybody in the country. Normally, ice cream costs $3.59 per gallon on the average. Maybe a little more for fancier ice cream and a little less for barely-adequate store-brand ice cream. Normally, people buy ice cream if they need it, and don't buy ice cream if they don't need it or cant afford it.

But not everybody is the same when it comes to ice cream. Some people are diabetic and need to buy special sugar free ice cream. Some people are lactose intolerant and need to buy special lactose free ice cream. Not every ice cream manufacturer offers special ice cream to people with these health conditions. And the ones that do charge more money for these special ice creams. As a result, some diabetic and lactose intolerant people have a hard time finding ice cream, have to pay a lot more than other people for ice cream, and maybe even have to go without ice cream. The government does not think this is fair and required all ice cream manufacturers to provide ice cream to everybody, regardless of their health conditions.

Additionally, not everybody eats the same amount of ice cream. Some people are very health-conscious and barely eat any ice cream at all. Other people are extremely obese and not very health-conscious and may eat ten gallons of ice cream a month. Normally, people who eat more ice cream would be charged more money, while people who eat less ice cream would be charged less money. The government does not think this is fair and required all ice cream manufacturers to provide as much ice cream as a person needs to everybody for the same monthly price, regardless of their consumption and health habits.

The government recognized that to provide ice cream this way, the ice cream manufacturers were going to need more money to make this system posisble. To make this possible, everybody, or at least the large majority of people, were going to have to buy ice cream every month. So the government passeed a law requiring every single person to buy ice cream every month. People were allowed to shop around and pick out whatever flavor and whatever brand of ice cream they wanted, but everyone must buy ice cream every month.

Obviously, not everybody wants or needs monthly ice cream. So the government included an option where if you don't want to buy ice cream this month, you can pay a fine equal to the cost of one gallon of ice cream. The government takes this money and puts it into the ice cream system to keep costs affordable for everyone else.

In 2012, some people sued because they didn't think it was constitutional for the government to have a mandate forcing them to buy ice cream every month, and using a fine to punish people who didn't. A mandate like that would definitely violate the Constitution.

But the government argued that this wasn't a mandate. It was a tax. They were taxing everybody an amount of money equal to the cost of one gallon of ice cream, but waiving the tax for anybody who bought ice cream this month. And under the Constitution, the government definitely has the right to collect taxes.

The Court agreed with the government that this was a constitutional ice cream tax and not an unconstitutional ice cream buying mandate and let it continue.

In 2017, the government had changed and some different people were in charge. And a lot of people realized that the ice cream manufacturers were doing just fine and didn't need the tax dollars from the people who didn't want ice cream. So they got rid of fine for not buying ice cream but kept the rest of the law: Manufacturers still had to provide as much ice cream as a person needed to everybody at the same cost regardless of their health conditions or ice cream consumption habits.

Some people sued, saying that the law was now unconstitutional because it could no longer be considered a constitutional tax now that the fine for not buying ice cream was removed. Instead, it was just a bunch of unconstitutional business requirements for ice cream manufacturers. And because the mandate to buy ice cream every month or pay a fine was integral to the ice cream law, the lawsuit said that the entire law now had to be revoked.


The problem is that the government is allowed to regulate businesses, so the government telling ice cream manufacturers that they can't refuse to sell ice cream to certain people or that they can't charge more for some people than others is allowed.

Another problem is that because nobody is being forced to pay a fine any more, there are no damages. People don't have standing to bring a law suit if they're not being damaged.

A third problem is that because the government changed the law itself in 2017, this proves that the requirement to buy ice cream or pay a fine is not actually integral to the law. The government, itself, changed the law, on its own, and the end result was a new law that had the other requirements but didn't have the fine portion. So the government clearly doesn't think the mandate requiring people to buy ice cream is integral to the law any more.

Tip arakouzo for their post.
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About The Headache
Politics? Relationships? Religion? Sex? Constipation? Society is full of issues that make our heads hurt, our stomachs turn, and make all of us just plain tired.