Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Recently, the editorial board of the other daily newspaper of this region wagged their fingers at conservatives, chiding them for their disagreement with the Supreme Court’s upholding of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The meat of the editorial said that the Court’s decision was constitutional, as are the very acts of judicial oversight and Congressional lawmaking, so the Constitution-loving far-right were hypocritical in their criticisms of the Court, especially that directed at Chief Justice John Roberts.

I thought it was a dangerous statement to be made by a metropolitan newspaper because it assumes that all Court decisions are sound and lacking in political expediency. We have a long history of morally and legally bankrupt decisions made by the Court. The right will cite Roe v. Wade, whilst the left will reference Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission.

One, much-less divisive, that immediately comes to my mind – since, like the personal mandate of ACA, it demands market participation and penalizes for the lack thereof – is 1942’s Wickard v. Fillburn. In that case, the Court sided with the USDA, saying it had the right to force Ohio farmer Roscoe Filburn to destroy his 23-acre wheat crop (the Agricultural Adjustment Act said he was allowed only 11) that he had intended to use only to feed his livestock. The Court’s reason (or lack thereof), was that by growing his own wheat for his own farm’s consumption, Fillburn decreased the amount he needed to buy on the market which would have an adverse effect on interstate trade.

It doesn’t matter what political persuasion you claim, you know that Wickard v. Fillburn was wrong.

Some think the same about the Court’s decision regarding ACA.

Let them. And, don’t label them as ignorant for doing so.


I’m frustrated with the media reports, government websites, and broadcast public service announcements touting the “free” services that health insurance companies must provide under ACA, things like colonoscopy screening for colon cancer, Pap smears and mammograms for women, well-child visits, flu shots for all children and adults and screening for blood pressure, cholesterol, and depression for men.

Under ACA, you may not have to pay a co-pay or deductible for those services, but that certainly does not make them “free.” They are anything but.

You will be paying for them, for sure -- as will everyone else whether they use such services or not -- in higher insurance premiums. Without the cost-sharing achieved through co-pays, the insurance companies will have to recoup their expenditures somehow, so they’ll embed them in their rates.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch….or a free doctor’s visit.


The Grand Old Party will have a rough go of it if “Obamacare” becomes a centerpiece of the presidential election campaign and the associated debates later this year. Presumptive Republican candidate Mitt Romney won’t have a leg to stand on if he calls out the costs and regulations of ACA. He will especially struggle with the former, because his version of health care reform (“Romneycare”) isn’t very frugal.

Romneycare is lacking in cost containment, which was the whole point of the law. In 2008, a family plan in Massachusetts was $13,788. Health professionals believe that that will double by 2020. In recent years, the growth of premiums in the Bay State cost has been twice the national average.

Looking beyond only the insured, over the next 10 years, Romneycare will cost Massachusetts taxpayers $2 billion more than originally anticipated.

How can he argue against the ACA with a track record like that?

Bob Confer is a Gasport resident and vice president of Confer Plastics Inc. in North Tonawanda. E-mail him at


This column originally ran in the 23 July 2012 Greater Niagara Newspapers

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