This week the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on two highly significant cases and the outcome of both was, at least in the opinion of this writer, right and proper. No, I am not dancing in the streets as are some, but I am quietly pleased and optimistic that these two rulings signify a trend toward a more tolerant, kinder national ideology.
The first, on Thursday June 25th 2015, was to uphold the subsidies for ACA (Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare”). The subsidies, government funds to assist in the purchase of health care, are a key provision for ACA and without them, the entire act would likely have crumbled. Given that there are 11.7 million people currently enrolled in the health care exchanges, the loss of those subsidies would have been devastating to a large portion of the population. GOP presidential hopefuls have been threatening a repeal of ACA, but Thursday’s ruling makes that highly improbable. Many have ranted and railed against ACA since its inception, blaming President Obama for increased medical and insurance costs, but that blame is misplaced. We have created a culture whereby if something goes awry, something is inconvenient, then surely somebody must be to blame, so we start pointing fingers, often without researching facts. The fact regarding healthcare costs is that neither ACA nor President Obama are the guilty parties here. Looking to blame someone? Blame the insurance industry who seek ever-increasing profits. Blame the healthcare industry, doctors who order unnecessary tests, prescribe unnecessary medications and schedule patients for routine office visits far more frequently than necessary. Blame the pharmaceutical companies who pass the costs of past failures on to us. Blame laboratories who charge exorbitant fees for even the simplest of tests. And lastly, blame individuals who visit the doctor at the first sign of a sniffle, ache or pain. Those are all the causes of the rise in healthcare costs, not the subsidies that have enabled families to obtain at least minimal healthcare without having to sacrifice such essentials as food and shelter. In the long run, the subsidies are unlikely to cost the taxpayers any more than indigent care if there were no affordable healthcare for the poor and lower middle income people.
The second ruling actually overshadowed the first in terms of being controversial and burning up the social media sites, and that is, of course, the ruling on Friday, June 26th 2015, in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide. I have no intention of becoming embroiled in a discussion of this topic, other than to say it was the right thing to do. If two people are in love, they should have the right to marry. Period. Don’t like the idea of same-sex marriage? Fine, don’t marry somebody of the same gender as yourself. The ruling certainly doesn’t force anybody to marry anybody they don’t wish to marry … it merely gives all people the right to marry the person they love. Don’t understand the concept? That’s okay too … there are many concepts that others follow that I don’t understand, but I accept. Think same-sex, marriage is a sin? That’s okay … again, nobody is forcing you to commit what you consider a sin, and frankly, nobody is holding you accountable for the sins of another person. The bigger sin, in my book, is to spew hate and vitriol toward those who choose differently than you simply because you do not understand or agree with their decision. I count among my friends a number of gay couples and I am happy for them. The Supreme Court ruling does nothing to harm any individual nor to deprive anyone of their rights, it merely gives official legitimacy to what most of us already knew was legitimate. As my mother used to say, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything”.
So, all in all, the U.S. Supreme Court took some giant steps toward human rights in this nation and we can only hope that the controversies will die down quickly and before any irreparable damage is done. Let us hope that the good citizens of this nation will live up to the image of the United States as a nation of tolerance, of “liberty and justice for all”.
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