The policy landscape will change dramatically after 10 a.m. today. If the Supreme Court does not strike down Obamacare in its entirety, Congress should move to repeal it. Americans support repeal of the health care law, as they have demonstrated in more than 100 polls since it passed in 2010. The infamous individual mandate is only the beginning of the problems Americans face under this law.  Most importantly, Americans need real health care reform, and we need to begin moving toward a patient-friendly system where people have the freedom to choose the care that is best for them.

Beyond the Individual Mandate

Over the past two years, Heritage has laid out the flawed policies of Obamacare, including the individual mandate to purchase health insurance, which is at the center of the law’s constitutional questionability.

We must remember, as James Capretta says in a recent Heritage paper, that what might remain on the books is just as problematic as the provisions under legal scrutiny:

1. The Taxes. It is often forgotten that in addition to being a massive federal power grab, Obamacare contains one of the largest tax increases ever imposed on the American economy—at a time when job growth should be the nation’s number one priority.

2. Deficits and Debt. Obamacare creates two new additional entitlement programs that are expected to add a minimum of 35 million Americans to the entitlement rolls when phased in, at an expense of more than $200 billion annually by the end of the decade.

3. The HHS Mandate. Obamacare has handed over immense regulatory power to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to control just about every aspect of the nation’s health system. Among other things, the regulations issued by the Administration thus far would require all employers, including religious employers such as Catholic hospitals and universities, to cover abortifacient products, contraceptives, and sterilization procedures in the health plans they offer to workers. This would directly violate the religious liberty rights of thousands of religious institutions around the country.

4. The Bureaucratic Micromanagement of American Health Care. In addition to creating new federal agencies, boards, and bureaucracies, Obamacare is also pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into the states to coax them into building the “exchanges” that will become the foundation of the Obamacare edifice. These exchanges, far from fulfilling the supposed mission of fostering a dynamic marketplace, will be the means by which the federal government will extend its reach to every corner of the health sector. Every American who does not obtain his or her insurance through an employer will have little choice but to go through Obamacare’s exchanges.

So What Should We Do?

A starting point for developing alternative health insurance reform should be setting commonsense insurance rules for those who buy their own insurance by extending the protections previously established by HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996). As Heritage’s Edmund Haislmaier explains:

Currently, 90 percent of privately insured Americans are covered by an employer-group plan. Over the past 15 years, the HIPAA employer-group coverage rules have worked reasonably well. Congress should simply extend those rules to the remaining 10 percent of the private market that consists of people covered by individual health insurance policies.

The HIPAA rules already extend key protections for those in the employer-group market, including a guaranteed issuing of coverage, guaranteed renewability of coverage, limits on pre-existing condition exclusions, and prohibition on discriminating based on health status. Extending these rules to the individual market would allow greater portability.

Coupling sensible individual health insurance market reforms with appropriate tax and Medicaid reforms would be a fair and fiscally sound strategy for expanding coverage to the currently uninsured. The Heritage Foundation’s Saving the American Dream provides such a plan and puts health care reform on a course toward a truly consumer-based health care system.

No matter what happens this morning, conservatives especially should not be fooled into making short-term concessions that can undermine their long-term policy goals. Instead, Congress should use the opportunity to articulate clearly the shortfalls of the law and contrast them sharply with better solutions.

The failure of Obamacare is not only a matter of the public’s continued opposition to it; the law is also a major policy failure. It is based on the false premise that more government, more regulations, and more mandates are the right solution to America’s health care problems. Congress must use this opportunity to offer an alternative vision for the future of health care—a future where individuals get better care at lower cost without government controlling the dollars and decisions.

At 12:30 ET today, Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Heritage’s David Addington will offer the conservative response on the Supreme Court’s ruling. Watch their response live here.

The fight over Obamacare will not end when the cameras and press leave Washington. Join with Heritage as we continue to fight for foundational, conservative principles for America’s future.

Our Latest Resources:

Obamacare’s Failings Go Well Beyond the Individual Mandate and Medicaid,” by James C. Capretta
Health Reform and the Impact of Extending Dependent Coverage to Age 26,” by Drew Gonshorowski
Why Congress Should Not Preserve Flawed Obamacare Policies,” by Nina Owcharenko
Saving the American Dream: The U.S. Needs Commonsense Health Insurance Reforms,” by Edmund Haislmaier

Quick Hits

  • The full House is expected to vote today on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress relating to the Fast and Furious scandal.
  • In his first public interview about the scandal, the agent who started Fast and Furious says, “It was the only way.”
  • “Germany’s Chancellor angrily rejected desperate pleading by Italy and Spain as a Franco-German rift over eurozone debt sharing threatened to unravel efforts to find a fix for the single currency at a meeting of European leaders on Thursday,” reports The (London) Telegraph.
  • More than 300 homes have been destroyed in the still-raging Colorado wildfires.
  • Congress has to address the dangerous defense cuts coming through budget sequestration and tackle the deficit, writes Heritage’s Emily Goff.