February 7, 2016

OPINION: Sophie’s Choice: earn less money or take Obamacare

Danedri Thompson

There may be a case to be made for earning less money. But that medicine for avoiding the Obamacare mandate on health insurance is a bitter pill to swallow for hardworking Americans.

Neal Kumar Kaytal, President Obama’s solicitor general, defended the health care law’s individual mandate last week in a federal appeals court. He intoned that Americans could avoid the mandate by choosing to earn less money.

Kaytal was asked if he could name one Supreme Court case that considered the same questions as the one posed by the mandate – a question of whether Congress has the right to use the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause to force Americans to purchase something.

Kaytal’s answer: Not exactly.

He told Sixth District Justices that while the Supreme Court had never directly confronted the question, a 1964 civil rights case used the Commerce Clause to ban discrimination in private businesses like hotels and restaurants.

A justice responded that those businesses had the choice to shutter their businesses, but individuals wouldn’t have such a choice under the healthcare law.

“If we’re going to play that game, I think that game can be played here as well, because after all, the minimum coverage provision only kicks in after people have earned a minimum amount of income,” Kaytal said. “So it’s a penalty on earning a certain amount of income and self insuring. It’s not just on self insuring on its own. So I guess one could say, just as the restaurant owner could depart the market in Heart of Atlanta Motel, someone doesn’t need to earn that much income. I think both are kind of fanciful and I think get at…”

He was interrupted before he could finish his sentence.

At least one justice didn’t appear to buy Kaytal’s story, and I, for one, am grateful.

It seems like a bad idea for the Obama administration to suggest – in a time when people are struggling to afford gas, food and other necessities – that they should simply agree to earn less money. How will that help get the economy moving?

The short answer is it won’t, and it’s not really a choice for most Americans. They simply don’t have the option to earn less money so they can opt out of Obamacare’s death panels.

From its outset, the healthcare law’s mandate appears to violate two of the three unalienable rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence. The law’s death panels could certainly damage the right to life, while the individual mandate certainly walks the fine line of the right to liberty.

And Kaytal’s suggestion to avoid the first two infringements on life and liberty assault another concept – the right to the pursuit of happiness. Money doesn’t buy it, but it sure helps.


  1. I predict for big biz or any biz or government entities in the future to NOT be offering health care insurance for its employees because it is so costly. Then what happens????? Obamacare might look awfully good to you……..look at what the city of Gardner is paying for health insurance for its employees AND THEIR FAMILIES (you don’t just pay for the helath insurance costs of the employee but all of their families)…..that might set you back a little………..budget time almost here and they haven’t even started to talk about that issue but, of course, communication is not important to dictators – they just do what they want and the agenda is theirs alone………….

  2. How much do you want to bet that Drovetta and his clones will be going for another mill levy increase this year which will prove ONCE AGAIN that they continue to spend more money they and we have……….no fiscal responsibility whatsoever. Drovetta’s cronyism government is eating every citizen’s lunch and more…..including jeopardizing your health. Apathy of the people allows this type of lowlife government in my opinion and you will get what you deserve.

  3. ThePatriot says:

    Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. How can you have these without health? The new health care law is a step in the right direction. Am I supposed to stand by and let the previous status quo be returned where nearly 45,000,000 American citizens had no access to health care? And nearly 44,000 American citizens died each year simply because they cannot afford health care. Where are the right-to-life people on this issue? Is this an acceptable status quo as long as it is a result of the free market?

    Why is better to allow only 4-5 health insurance companies complete reign over our healthcare system and determine which American citizens get healthcare based on the free market? How has it been working for you? What about their death panels?

    We as a civilized society should not stand for a return to the previous status quo and cede complete control of our health care to people who want to maximize profits and minimize costs (that would be you – you are a cost sink). Additionally we could afford it. I would prefer spending billions on our own citizens rather than pursuing fake wars and nation-building in foreign countries.

  4. Under the new health care law–understand that doctors will have to work for a corporation, not be free to practice in the different health care facilities; our health care providers will be Nurse Practitioners; also in the new health care bill is when retirees down size and sell their homes, a certain per cent has to go to the federal government.

  5. Don’t worry about the illegals–they get the “red carpet” in the hospital. Also, hospital full of illegals delivering babies.

  6. We already have nurse practicioners and people are having to wait months for health care. Ten years ago I had to wait around 5 months to get a total knee replacement and I had Blue Cross/Blue Shield as my insurance company, have now had to wait two months for a colon test, daughter has had to wait 6 months to get into a specialist she needs and the cost is sky high for health care. I went into the hospital for a two day stay the first part of May and the bill was over $10,000 and that doesn’t include the doctors’ bills. CEO of United Healthcare insurance company salary this past year was million and millions of dollars. All this going on while I believe around 40 Million people don’t even have any health insurance – who do you think pays those bills??? We all do and well we should, in my opinion. since I sure couldn’t stand there and say someone can’t get the care they need because they don’t have the dollars. Yak all you want about the affordable health care bill but I am sure most citizens certainly aren’t satisfied with the status quo we have now.
    Lose your job and your health care benefits and then tell me how wonderful the system is we have now. You could very well also be asking for financial assistance if you find yourself in that position.

  7. Gardnerman says:

    It is folly to think that we can provide both universal coverage and also coverage without restriction/limitation (rationing). One or the other has to give. To move forward thinking we can do both will bankrupt our nation.

  8. Be an illegal and have your way paid.

  9. New doctor – salary $30,000 – student loans $160,000 — And, Karl Rove thinks it is a sin that Christine O’Donnell took 10 years to pay her student loans.

  10. The basic question that needs to be answered is do you think all U.S. citizens should have health care? If so, how do we provide that care? How are we going to pay for that care? Are you one of those people who would say if you can’t afford to pay for health care, then you are out of luck? You are already paying indirectly for health care for those uninsured right now. If and when we get health care for all, there will be a shortage of doctors, nurses, etc. – how are we going to handle that when we are already having problems in that area? We need to be solving problems – not spending time on the same ole political ways that have got us nowhere………find decent people to run for office who will get the job done and support them at the voting polls and kick them out of office if they don’t follow thru and you would know when to do that by their voting record and the bills they are submitting and/or supporting.

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