Ruling On The Affordable Care Act

Grind for October 19th
“Prejudices are what fools use for reason.”
– Voltaire

Looking Forward

The Headline

A landmark ruling on the Affordable Care Act is expected by the end of the month

The Grind

After hearing arguments that “went about as badly for the defenders of the Affordable Care Act as it could have gone,” the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to issue a significant challenge to Obama’s landmark healthcare policy, reports NPR.

“I think we should be prepared for the worst,” says Michigan University Law Professor Nicholas Bagley, “the invalidation of all or a significant part of the Affordable Care Act.”

The Details

The Affordable Care Act will remain law even if the 5th Circuit rules it unconstitutional, but a ruling issued during the enrollment period could cause confusion for the 24 million people who get their health coverage through ACA programs.

Enrollment begins November 1st and ends in late December.

If the 5th Circuit declares the ACA unconstitutional and that challenge is upheld by the Supreme Court, “the chaos that would ensue is almost impossible to wrap your brain around,” says Sabrina Corlette, Director of the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University.

“The marketplace would just simply disappear and millions of people would become uninsured overnight, probably leaving hospitals and doctors with millions and millions of dollars in unpaid medical bills. Medicaid expansion would disappear overnight.”

The Background

In Texas v. Azar, plaintiffs are challenging the Affordable Care Act based on the fact that it contains a “naked, penalty-free command to buy insurance,” explains Bagley.

That “command” is the individual mandate which penalizes people who refuse to buy insurance. The Trump Administration’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (2017) reduced that penalty to zero.

The individual mandate was one of the main reasons the Supreme Court decided to uphold the ACA when it was challenged in 2012.

“We know from the Supreme Court’s first decision on the individual mandate case that Congress doesn’t have the power to adopt a freestanding mandate, it just has the power to impose a tax,” explains Bagley.

Thus, plaintiffs argue that the individual mandate must be unconstitutional and – based on the Obama Administration’s insistence that the individual mandate was an essential element of the ACA – the entire law must be unconstitutional.

This argument was upheld by a federal just in Texas last December and heard by the 5th Circuit in July.


The Headline

Coca-Cola unveils new bottle made from ocean trash

The Grind

Coca-Cola this month unveiled a new bottle that is made with 25% marine plastics obtained from the Mediterranean Sea.

The bottle is “the first-ever plastic bottle made using marine plastic that has been successfully recycled for use in food and drink packaging,” said Coca-Cola, and was developed “to show the transformational potential of revolutionary enhanced recycling technologies, which can recycle previously-used PET plastics of any quality back to high-quality plastic that can be used for food or drink packaging.”

The Details

Coca-Cola is also working on a project to reduce plastic use by 11,000 tons per year by removing all hard-to-recycle plastics from its products and is on track to reach 50% recycled content in its plastic bottles by 2023 in Western Europe.

Coca-Cola announced several new commitments this month, including:

— Working towards 100% recycled or renewable materials in all bottles (this goal would eliminate the use of more than 200,000 tons of new plastic annually)

— Supporting deposit return systems in Western Europe

— Publishing its packaging footprint each year

— Publishing its progress towards commitments and goals each year

“Too many of the world’s finite resources are currently discarded as waste,” argues Tim Brett, President of Coca-Cola in Western Europe.

“There is a valuable role for packaging, but it must always be collected, recycled, and reused. Our aim, working in partnership, is to see the term ‘single-use plastic’ become redundant, both in our business and beyond, as all of our plastic – and indeed all of our packaging – is delivered within a closed loop.”The marine trash bottle was made possible through partnerships with Indorama Ventures (a chemical company), Ioniqa Technologies (a recycling company), and Circular Seas (an initiative to clear marine trash).

Did you know… There are more insects in one square mile of rural land than there are human beings in the world.