How the Supreme Court Doomed the ACA

March/​April 2013 • Policy Report

On June 28, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court interpreted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) not as imposing a strict mandate, but instead as levying a constitutionally valid tax for failure to purchase health insurance. In the new issue of Regulation magazine, Thomas A. Lambert of the University of Missouri Law School summarizes the justification underlying this ruling before considering what lies ahead for medical care in the United States. “Be warned: the picture isn’t pretty,” Lambert writes.

In considering the spate of recent reports on child molestation convictions, Kathryn Shelton and Richard B. McKenzie examine the unintended consequences behind one of the most recent movements in protective policymaking: restrictive care. “Prohibitions and limits on hugs can extend the harm done by pedophiles to literally millions of children, especially those who are disadvantaged,” they write. The better road forward, Shelton and McKenzie continue, is for institutions to screen prospective staff members carefully and then monitor their contact with children.

Elsewhere in the issue, Timothy Sandefur explores the many workers who feel themselves silenced by the monopolistic power of politically privileged unions, while David E. Harrington and Jaret Treber find that state laws banning the combination of cemeteries and funeral homes harm consumers by reducing variety and raising costs. Other contributors include Dan L. Burk on “Patent Reform in the United States: Lessons Learned,” as well as G. Stuart Mendenhall and Mark Schmidhofer on “Screening Tests for Terrorists.”

The Winter 2012–2013 issue also features reviews of books on the Transportation Security Administration and the fight for American security, the pitfalls of industrial policy, and the arguments behind a progressive consumption tax. As always, it wraps up with Peter Van Doren’s survey of recent academic papers.