SCOTUS To Hear PPACA

Debate to take place in March, ruling could come next fall.

Setting the stage for a historic constitutional confrontation over federal power, the Supreme Court on Monday granted three separate cases on the constitutionality of the new federal health care law, and set aside 5 1/2 hours for oral argument, to be held in March. The Court, however, did not grant all of the issues raised and it chose issues to review only from three of the five separate appeals before it. It is unclear, at this point, whether all of the cases will be heard on a single day. (UPDATE: The Court has informed the lawyers involved that the case will be argued over two days.)

Governor Deal reacted thusly:

“The state of Georgia has been a leader in the fight against the crippling mandates of Obamacare. As a member of Congress, I was the first to question the constitutionality of the individual mandate on the floor of the House. It’s appropriate and expected that the court would rule on an issue so central to Americans’ individual liberties. As governor, I’m especially happy to see the court look into whether the federal government can force state governments to take on huge new spending programs. Obamacare would vastly expand our state’s Medicaid enrollment, creating a huge new tax burden on Georgia taxpayers. Frankly, our state can’t afford these new unfunded mandates, and what we’re seeing is that the majority of states feel the same way. The outcome of this case is hugely important to the future of Georgia, and we have high hopes for a favorable decision from the Supreme Court next year.”

So what’s going to happen? Will Obamacare be upheld, thrown out or something in between?

37 comments

  1. Statement from Congressman Paul Broun:

    “Obamacare is one of the most glaring breaches of constitutionality in our nation’s history. Not only did the healthcare overhaul cost nearly $1 trillion in taxpayer money, it also got rammed through Congress through backroom deals, and is being forced down the throats of the American people. If the federal government can punish the public by law for not purchasing health insurance, what will be next when it comes to losing our liberty as Americans?

    “I am pleased that the Supreme Court has agreed to take up the cases of the individual mandate portion of Obamacare as well as the severability of the bill. It is my sincere hope that the Court overturns this attack on our nation’s healthcare system so that Congress can get to work on healthcare reform that is truly patient-centered, free-market based, affordable, and constitutional.”

  2. John Konop says:

    I keep hearing from Paul Broun………………….about how Obama/Care will Bk the country and they will overturn it asap. Why not the same outrage about Bush with Medicare Part D? If I follow the logic of Brown and company should they not be focused on this first?

    …..Speaking of Unfunded Liabilities: Medicare Part D

    The Financial Report of the United States Government, 2009 was released last week. Perusing the tables, one encounters the gigantic new, unfunded entitlement enacted in 2003, namely Medicare Part D.

    Note the last line, “Present value of future expenditures in excess of future revenue” (over a 75 year period). The figure is $7.2 trillion…….

    http://www.econbrowser.com/archives/2010/03/speaking_of_lia.html

    • Three Jack says:

      john, beyond the financial impacts both put upon taxpayers, obamacare introduced federal mandated coverage for the first time which imo puts it at the top of laws that should be over-turned asap. if scotus sides with obama, government will have increased it’s ability to force citizens into buying services and products beyond anything i ever imagined.

      medicare part d should be part of whatever medicare reform that eventually passes congress. it should not be treated as a separate fight.

      • benevolus says:

        As far as I am concerned, we decided long ago that we would all partake of the services when we decided to have public hospitals and indigent burials and try to prevent people from spreading disease and dying in the streets. The government is just responding to that FACT and trying to get it paid for.

      • John Konop says:

        Three Jack,

        In all seriousness what should we do with people that get sick and do not have insurance and or the money to pay for it? What should we do with people that cannot get health insurance via preexisting conditions? How do we bend the cost of Medicare enough without dealing with end of life cost? Do you agree with Palin that an end of life directive ie living will, is like a death panel?

        • KD_fiscal conservative says:

          John, you probably know by now I almost completely agree with you on healthcare reform, but most Americans dont understand simple math…like the fact that Medicare only takes in 1/3 of what it will pay out. But the GOP has pinned itself in a corner by publically opposing every single aspect of obamacare, and this traditionally repub. like end of life and auxially cost containment cant be supported the GOP anymore. So as a center-right individual the only fiscially responsible fix to medicare that could ever get through a Repib. Congress is premium support like what Paul Ryan advocated. Unfortunately that would almost guarantee a republican landslide defeat so at this point there’s very little to be optimistic about for the future of our healthcare spending bubble.

        • John, come on. We’re all going to Galt’s Gulch to wait out their deaths. Haven’t you read the book that the other whackos who run the Republican party use as their new playbook?

          • John Konop says:

            Chris,

            Chris,

            As you know for years I have been warning about the cost curve issue with healthcare public and private. The truth is when one side talks cuts the other side screams we are killing babies and or grandma. And the reality is we cannot afford the current system. We need to pay more, cut cost and pay for wellness verse illness. Below is a very interesting article about healthcare cost. The full article is in the Harvard Business review.

            …..But few acknowledge a more fundamental source of escalating costs: the system by which those costs are measured. To put it bluntly, there is an almost complete lack of understanding of how much it costs to deliver patient care, much less how those costs compare with the outcomes achieved. Instead of focusing on the costs of treating individual patients with specific medical conditions over their full cycle of care, providers aggregate and analyze costs at the specialty or service department level.

            Making matters worse, participants in the health care system do not even agree on what they mean by costs. When politicians and policy makers talk about cost reduction and “bending the cost curve,” they are typically referring to how much the government or insurers pay to providers—not to the costs incurred by providers to deliver health care services. Cutting payor reimbursement does reduce the bill paid by insurers and lowers providers’ revenues, but it does nothing to reduce the actual costs of delivering care. Providers share in this confusion. They often allocate their costs to procedures, departments, and services based not on the actual resources used to deliver care but on how much they are reimbursed. But reimbursement itself is based on arbitrary and inaccurate assumptions about the intensity of care…….

            http://hbr.org/2011/09/how-to-solve-the-cost-crisis-in-health-care/ar/1#fadetoblack

      • Engineer says:

        Justice Kagan gave legal advice as solicitor general on the issue before joining the Supreme Court. Hands-on involvement in the case should be enough to recuse herself. What does this have to do with Justice Thomas, I don’t recall him ever giving legal advice on the issue?

  3. From AG Sam Olens:

    Attorney General Sam Olens, whose first act after taking office was to join the 26 state suit, applauded the move by the Court:

    “Today’s act by the Supreme Court is a crucial step in our long fight to reign in the federal government’s unconstitutional over-reach into the healthcare marketplace and to restore individual liberty when it comes to personal decisions about healthcare. I am pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized the constitutional magnitude of this case and will soon be deciding our case. I look forward to oral arguments this spring and a final ruling from the Court thereafter.”

  4. rense says:

    Regrettably, the Supreme Court will have MediCare, SSI, and the federal income tax as precedents to use for legal justification to force people to buy health insurance.

  5. KD_fiscal conservative says:

    I think a point that is being missed here is regardless of the outcome of The Courts decision, the mandate will be is politically a problem for Obama. The fact is people don’t like the mandate and will not understand that the widely popular provisions of insurance regulations won’t be possible without the individual mandate increasing the insurance pool. The decision in march will get voters thinking about that again even if it upheld, and Romney will get a chance to nail team Obama on it(regardless of the fact that the mandate was a repub. idea supported by him). This is a lose-lose for Obama.

    • One problem with your analysis, if I might. According to research, approximately 83% of Americans have health insurance. So you are talking about only 17% of the population that this impacts. Of that 17%, a huge number of them make less than $25,000 a year and/or are children. These people will be moved into a combination of Medicaid and heavily subsidized private insurance, via the mandate as the mechanism – but they will not be paying a penalty.

      I’d be surprised if ultimately the number of people who will be subject to actually paying a penalty because of the mandate is around 5%. And you know what I’d tell those 5% – suck it up. Either participate in insurance so that you don’t pay the penalty, or be thankful that for a small penalty you’ll be able to immediately enroll in insurance when something goes wrong (unlike now) because with the mandate we’ll also eliminate pre-existing condition discrimination.

      The most insane part of your logic, despite the fact that the mandate’s penalty applies to almost no one (as shown above), is that somehow Romney will be the beneficiary of a Supreme Court strikedown, even though as you acknowledge they are striking down his idea. Sure, he would counter that it’s ok for a state to do it but not the federal government, but not only is that a BS distinction it’s something that’s way over the head of the average voter anyway.

      • KD_fiscal conservative says:

        Chris, First of all, I already said I personally support the mandate, as many others who advocate personal responsibility do, but here is the problem. Voters typically don’t pay close attention to nuances that your are discussing. The fact still remains, the majority of independents don’t like the mandate, and overwhelmingly don’t like the law(70+%). They don’t understand much of it and the GOP has(and will con’t to) demagogue it by using vague generalities like “doctor patient relationship” and “bureaucrats making health decisions(even though they have been for decades). Also ObamaCare won’t lower premiums, and the majority of independents aren’t going to see any direct benefit from it.

        So when the Court decision comes out the whole focus will be back on healthcare, which is a political liability for Obama. If the law is struck down, he looks like a complete fool, and if it held up the Repub. nominee(likely Romney) will get a chance to criticize Obama on the law. The fact remains most independents want the law repealed. It doesn’t matter that they like certain parts, or even that they don’t really understand it, the point is they want it gone, and the Supreme Court decision isn’t going to change that.

          • KD_fiscal conservative says:

            Yes, Harry, cutting Medicare when it currently pays out 3x as much as it takes in, IS fiscal conservatism….as is getting people to be fiscally responsible with their personal health care expenses.

            Actually there is nothing not fiscally conservative about this or any of my other posts. On the other hand, by complaining about the Medicare cuts is borderline socialist…

    • I Miss the 90s says:

      I really think the issue is that people do not understand the “mandate.” It is no more a mandate that the requirement that everyone file a tax return (even if you received no taxable income for the year). The individual mandate, which mind you was a GOP proposition for the past 20some years, is a tax hike on those without health insurance. The government is not making anyone do anything. You can chose to go without health insurance, but you will also face a small tax for doing so (and face it, the tax only means that these knuckleheads without insurance will only get a smaller tax refund).

      This is the clever part of the law…it is not really a mandate. You will not go to jail nor will you be brought before the court for violating a civil statute if you do not have health insurance. All of this “mandate” crap is rhetoric and most people are falling for it. Same goes for calling the act Obamacare. If you poll support for either “Obamacare” or “health care reform” the public will predictably respond in the negative…they do not like it (even though it is technically health insurance reform). If you ask them about each component part separately you will find support to be overwhelming. Amongst those with insurance even the “individual mandate” receives a good deal of support because, face it…people are not always stupid, we all know that the costs of bankruptcies, unpaid medical bills, and other “shrink” are passed on to those of us that do have health insurance.

      Because I am something of a stickler to the Constitution, the SCOTUS should not decide on the tax issue merely because of the Anti-Injunction Act.

      And do not forget, there are 4 issues going to the SCOTUS and the WH is only defending 2 of those issues but iaworking with the States to repeal 2 others.

    • While I agree that there are some issues that should be handled at the state or local level (no need to charge for lyme disease in Georgia, Connecticut might be a different story) the states (with the exception of Mass) haven’t exactly done a stellar job of dealing with this issue.

      Obamacare sets up a framework for the states to opt out of if they can achieve the same goals as the federal program. I believe Massachusetts, Vermont and Oregon are going in that direction. Utah has made some progress.

      This just begs the question though – if Republicans cheer the states for doing something, why is it mostly the liberal Democratic controlled states that are actually doing something? It’s not as if Georgia were to set up an exchange and Obamacare got struck down that it still couldn’t be a good idea for Georgia to run an exchange (something that our politicians have been promising for 20 years but never got around to doing before or after Obamacare was enacted).

      • I Miss the 90s says:

        The answer to that, Huttman, is very simple. As much as you and the rest of the crowd here thinks that the GOP and the conservatives fighting the law are principled…they are not. They want this to drag out as long as possible for their own electoral purposes.

        Just look at VRA 1965. GA could have received clearance to opt out of section 5 over 10 years ago (though they had no real incentive until the GOP take over). They still can opt out, it is inexpensive, the method to opt out is clearly stated in section 4 of the law, but doing so would be one less thing to harp on the Democrats about. So long as the GOP is the party of “no” (and not just no, but the party of no ideas) they will do what they do best: try to make old issues new wedge issues.

      • Harry says:

        Mr. Huttman, it’s about the constitution and liberties and rights that should be retained by the states and people – not what you think is just or equitable or fair.

        • I Miss the 90s says:

          And Harry, lest you forget, Article I Section 8 of the Constitution gives the US Federal Government (Congress specifically) sole authority in regulating interstate commerce and levying uniform national taxes.

          States may have the authority to establish health codes, but if health insurance is allowed to be sold across state lines that jurisdiction lies with the Federal Government and, on a normative note, it is not something the states should be allowed to touch.

          • Harry says:

            That’s a good counterpoint, and has validity. Therefore, if 2/3 of the people are against most of the provisions of Obamacare, then it will likely not be upheld and/or will be repealed; therefore the more socialistic of the blue states will have to come into compliance with the rest of us. The insurance companies will not legally be required to comply with state regulations without compensation, and I rather doubt there any states that will pony up for “enhanced Medicaid” without federal support.

            • I Miss the 90s says:

              What makes you think that the SCOTUS does, or even should, respond to public opinion?

              Stop throwing that word “socialist” around so pejoratively. You do not know what it means and I have read enough of your posts to call you a fascist, but I do not because it is not productive.

              The Medicaid Expansion is probably the least likely provision to be struck down by the court. The argument that the expansion is unconstitutional is weak and not based in constitutional law…it is purely a matter of right-wing political preference and every judge that has heard this case has upheld the constitutionality of the medicaid expansion (even your precious Tea Party Judge Roger Vinson who was appointed by Ronald Reagan himself). Furthermore, those entertains on the radio and on FauxNews have been blowing the costs to the states way out of proportion.

  6. Herb says:

    I think SCOTUS will uphold HCR. You can expect mass riots if they don’t. That said, this law doesn’t go far enough. I believe in free Health Care and free & unlimited Insurance. You don’t have to pay bi-monthly/monthly/annual fees to the Insurance companies, and they get to pay 100% of your health bill each time, every time. This is the epitome of fairness in the Health Care System.

    • KD_fiscal conservative says:

      “You don’t have to pay bi-monthly/monthly/annual fees to the Insurance companies, and they get to pay 100% of your health bill each time, every time. This is the epitome of fairness in the Health Care System.”

      Either Herb is brilliantly satirizing left wing fantasy land logic, is on some illicit substance(s), really *is* a far left fantasy land liberal or some combination thereof.

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