In light of this week’s good news on the legal front of the war against ObamaCare, Medical Progress Today, a project of the Manhattan Institute, asked a collection of leading health policy experts for their opinions on whether ObamaCare can still stand if the individual mandate is removed.

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“Yesterday liberals were crowing that even if the mandate is eventually declared illegal, it’s no big deal because the rest of ObamaCare’s new system would remain intact. Yet they’ve argued for years that the mandate is essential to health reform, because the mandate is at the heart of the regulatory machine. ObamaCare without a mandate would mean individuals wouldn’t have to pay into a system until they were sick, driving up costs even faster and ruining what’s left of health insurance markets.”

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“Attorneys for 20 states fighting the new federal health care law told a judge Thursday it will expand the government’s powers in dangerous and unintended ways. The states want U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson to issue a summary judgment throwing out the health care law without a full trial. They argue it violates people’s rights by forcing them to buy health insurance by 2014 or face penalties. ‘The act would leave more constitutional damage in its wake than any other statute in our history,’ David Rivkin, an attorney for the states, told Vinson.”

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ObamaCare expands Medicaid by 16 million new enrollees, but current beneficiaries get poor quality care and face long wait times to find doctors. Providers frequently refuse to treat Medicaid patients because the reimbursement rates are so low. “Once the new law is fully in effect, roughly one in five Americans will carry a Medicaid card. But the combination of rapid beneficiary growth with benefit and provider cuts threatens to render their cards useless.”

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“Rising entitlement spending is already driving the federal budget off a cliff. But Obamacare would add fuel to the fire with the largest entitlement expansion since the 1960s. So it takes a special kind of audacity for Obamacare’s apologists to continue to insist that the new law will cut the projected budget deficits. Evidence clearly shows otherwise.”

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“Today’s hearing in Pensacola built on Monday’s ruling out of Richmond: Judge Roger Vinson is likely to hold the individual mandate unconstitutional. And such a decision would be the most significant development possible at the district court level because the Florida case involved 20 states, with more joining the lawsuit when new governors and attorneys general assume office in January. It is unprecedented for this number of states — again, soon to be a majority — to sue the federal government and it shows the singular and extreme nature of the government’s assertion of raw power here.”

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“A better Medicare program, with a range of personal choice and a system of governance broadly similar to the FEHBP, will give Medicare patients control over the flow of dollars and freedom to make decisions about how they access medical services. This will stimulate intense market competition among plans and providers, control costs, and promote rapid innovation and higher productivity through the efficient delivery of quality care, thus guaranteeing value in return for retiree premiums and taxpayer dollars. Strong budgetary controls will back up the competitive structure, ensuring that the Medicare program remains affordable. Most important, these reforms will promote personal freedom of choice as well as stable and reliable health insurance.”

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“What they found calls into question the assumptions that health policy wonks have been making for years: While Medicare indeed spends almost twice as much more per patient in McAllen than in El Paso, Blue Cross spends about the same in both places. In fact, Blue Cross’s per-patient spending was actually slightly lower in El Paso. These findings persisted for overall spending, as well as for spending on specific types of services and several specific diseases.”

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“This Essay argues that federal health care reform may induce employers to redesign their health plans to encourage employees who are likely to consume a greater-than-average amount of medical services to opt out of employer-provided coverage and instead acquire coverage on the individual market. Although largely overlooked in public policy debates, this prospect of employer dumping of high-risk employees raises serious concerns about the sustainability of health care reform more generally.”

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“The federal government is demanding that states spend precious time in upcoming legislative sessions to set up massive new bureaucracies in anticipation of spending billions of dollars to implement ObamaCare… But there are ways states can protect themselves from being swamped by these federal demands.”

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