Justices meet Friday to vote on health care case
Mar 30, 2012 Friday
While the rest of us have to wait until June, the justices of the Supreme Court will know the likely outcome of the historic health care case by the time they go home this weekend.
After months of anticipation, thousands of pages of briefs and more than six hours of arguments, the justices will vote on the fate of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul in under an hour Friday morning. They will meet in a wood-paneled conference room on the court's main floor. No one else will be present.
In the weeks after this meeting, individual votes can change. Even who wins can change, as the justices read each other's draft opinions and dissents.
But Friday's vote, which each justice probably will record and many will keep for posterity, will be followed soon after by the assignment of a single justice to write a majority opinion, or in a case this complex, perhaps two or more justices to tackle different issues. That's where the hard work begins, with the clock ticking toward the end of the court's work in early summer.
Last edited by CJ on Sun Jul 01, 2012 4:47 pm; edited 1 time in total
I don't know why they can't make their official ruling NOW, b/c I can't imagine any of these justices changing their minds when they've already made up their minds, even though there's a 3 month window.
Yeah, Kennedy's the "wild card", but to me, he comes off as very "double minded"(a double minded man is unstable in all of his ways). Remember when he flip-flopped on Roe V Wade and prayer at public school graduations?
Another $17 trillion surprise found in Obamacare
Senate Republican staffers continue to look though the 2010 Obamacare law to see what’s in it, and their latest discovery is a massive $17 trillion funding gap.
“The more we learn about the bill, the more we learn it is even more unaffordable than was suspected,” said Ala. Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Republican’s budget chief in the Senate.
“The bill has to be removed from the books because we don’t have the money,” he said.
The hidden shortfall between new Obamacare spending and new Obamacare taxes was revealed just after Supreme Court judges grilled the law’s supporters about its compliance with the constitution’s limits on government activity. If the judges don’t strike down the law, Obamacare will force taxpayers find another $17 trillion to pay for Obamacare’s spending.
The $17 trillion in extra promises was revealed by an analysis of the law’s long-term requirements. The additional obligations, when combined with existing Medicare and Medicaid funding shortfalls, leaves taxpayers on the hook for an extra $82 trillion over the next 75 years.
The federal government already owes $15 trillion in debt, including $5 trillion in funds borrowed during Obama’s term.
That $82 billion in unfunded future expenses is more more than five years of wealth generated by the United States, which now produces just over $15 trillion of value per year.
NATIONAL ID THREATENS ULTIMATE CONTROL
April , 2012 This mandate is in 0bamacare as mandatory
Congress urged not to consider Real ID Act of 2005 which mandated nationwide standards for a drivers license database.
The plan is law but not implemented yet, after half the states adopted laws prohibiting the implementation of the federal plan.
A national ID card would enable the government to track citizens and jeopardize the privacy rights of Americans.
It serves only one purpose: to provide government with the ultimate control over the American people.
WHY OBAMACARE is CLEARLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL
Obama's actions worst definition of audacity
Obamacare vs. the Constitution
The Constitution is a document that is intended to preserve liberty by limiting the powers of the federal government. It reserves most governmental powers to the state. And it protects the freedom of individuals. Obamacare strips powers reserved for the states and attacks the freedom of individuals.
Obamacare expressly exceeds the enumerated and carefully limited powers of the federal government, and that’s why it must be declared unconstitutional – not in part, but in whole. It is not the Supreme Court’s role to declare part of an unconstitutional act invalid. It is the Supreme Court’s role to declare the entire unconstitutional act invalid.
Judicial activism does not occur when a court defends the text of the Constitution against conflicting lower laws, but rather occurs when judges rewrite the text of the Constitution. That is almost exclusively the purview of the kinds of judges Obama appoints.
A classic example of judicial activism was the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade. In that case, which has resulted in some 40 million deaths in the womb, the court inventively and consciously and audaciously attempted to write new words into the Constitution – words like “abortion” and “right to privacy.”
In the Obamacare case, Congress attempted not only to mandate the purchase of certain services American citizens may or may not have chosen to buy, it actually attempted to create commerce. While the Constitution provides Congress with the authority to “regulate commerce,” it has no authority to create it or mandate it on individual citizens or states.
That’s why the only legitimate decision the Supreme Court can make regarding the law is to strike it down in its entirety. If Congress would like to try again in passing legislation dealing with health-care costs, it can certainly try. But the very essence of Obamacare is thoroughly, unequivocally and unambiguously unconstitutional. It is not the Supreme Court’s job to legislate or tinker with bills that come before it for review. It has two choices – strike down the law or affirm it.
The Constitution trumps any other so-called law passed by Congress.
Supreme Court Health Care Ruling: Just the Beginning of the Real Fight Ahead?
VIDEO INSIDE LINK
The Supreme Court ruling on President Obama's landmark health care bill will come down sometime this month before the nine Justices leave Washington, D.C for summer break. Some are even speculating a decision rendered as soon as this week.
The Court's decision could uphold the Affordable Care Act entirely, strike it down in full, or do something in between. For instance, they could deem the individual mandate as unconstitutional while upholding many other facets of the law. The various scenarios have companies in all corners of corporate America, especially the health care sector (XLV), plotting and planning for whatever the decision may be.
"For the life science companies [pharmaceuticals (XPH) and medical technology (IHI)] there's little here that's an outright mandate for them," says Terry Hisey, vice president and life sciences leader at Deloitte. "More so what is effected are the health insurance companies and the hospitals system providers…for health insurance companies and for hospitals it was a big forcing function, for life sciences companies it's a catalyst to market change."
That market change, Hisey believes, has already begun and will not be drastically altered by whatever comes out of Washington. He says a renewed focus on product safety and value, as well as clinical and commercial success is the new normal for the industry. Furthermore, this shift "makes the U.S. look a bit more like markets around the world where they compete already."
Even if the life sciences may be somewhat immune to the whims of Washington, the health care law and what parts, if any, are upheld still has the potential to alter the landscape. "One of the most likely scenarios," argues Hisey, "is that some things happen as it relates to the individual mandate, but what that's really gonna do is end up pushing things back to the state and to the federal government and potentially the congress to re-frame."
What is often lost in headlines dominated by the individual mandate and court battles is that some of the law has already been implemented."There have been a substantial amount of changes that have already been made," says Hisey, "so one of the issues would be how do you begin to unwind things that have already happened since the legislation was passed?"
In short, the Supreme Court's decision may be imminent, but the real fight over health care reform is just getting started.
Romney pushed for individual mandate in Massachusetts health care law, emails show
Mitt Romney has distanced himself from the health care reform bill he signed as governor of Massachusetts amid criticism that the law bears more than a passing resemblance to Obamacare, which he's repeatedly pledged to repeal if elected in November.
But a series of emails obtained by the Wall Street Journal reveals Romney was actively engaged in negotiating the specifics of the 2006 Massachusetts bill and that he and his top aides championed a provision identical to one in President Barack Obama's law requiring individuals to have or buy health insurance.
The so-called individual mandate is at the heart of most conservative criticism of Obama's health care law, with many Republicans calling the provision unconstitutional. But in 2006, emails obtained by the Journal under a public records request show, Romney and his top aides pressed for an individual mandate even when Massachusetts Democrats weren't yet embracing such a proposal.
According to the emails, Romney personally drafted a Wall Street Journal op-ed that defended the individual mandate. Romney's draft, slightly different from the final version that was published, insisted taxpayers ultimately foot the bill when the uninsured seek health care—an argument that has been echoed by the White House in defending Obama's bill.
Health Law Adds 6.6 Million Young Adults to Parents' U.S.
By Alex Wayne | Bloomberg – 10 hours ago
About 6.6 million young adults under age 26 joined their parents' insurance plans in 2011 because of the U.S. health-care law, the largest one-year increase in medical coverage for the age group, a survey found.
The part of the law that lets young people stay on parental plans until age 26 helped boost coverage during tough economic times, said Sara Collins, vice president for affordable health insurance at the Commonwealth Fund, a New York-based nonprofit that conducted the survey and supports expanded health coverage.
The benefit for adult children is one of the most popular parts of the 2010 health-care law as young adults face a U.S. labor market that is making it more difficult to find work and garner health coverage. Unemployment among 16- to 24-year-olds was 16.1 percent in May, almost double the 8.2 percent rate for the nation as a whole, according to government data.
"The economy is absolutely a factor in both the large number of adults who are without health insurance and likely the number coming onto their parents' policies," Collins said in a telephone interview. The health law "came at a really good time for young adults, in terms of the poor job market."
Young adult coverage was one of the first provisions of the law enacted. About 71 percent of Americans polled by the Kaiser Family Foundation in April said they viewed that provision favorably. The health law in its entirety is less popular, with an approval rate of 37 percent, and an unfavorable view by 44 percent of those surveyed in May, according to a monthly tracking poll by Kaiser.
President Barack Obama's almost $1 trillion, 10-year plan to overhaul the health system passed Congress in 2010 without any Republican votes. Parts of the law expanding insurance coverage were then challenged as unconstitutional by 26 states. The Supreme Court is slated to rule on those objections this month, a decision that may lead to a dismantling of the law.
The head of a caucus of 21 Republican lawmakers with medical backgrounds said this week that no matter the outcome, he will try to preserve the coverage for young adults and for people with pre-existing medical conditions. Representative Phil Gingrey, an obstetrician-gynecologist from Georgia who co-chairs the group, said the young-adult provision is "a good policy."
The government calculates that about 2.5 million people under age 26 who had been uninsured gained coverage in 2011 because of the health law. Commonwealth's figure includes people who switched from other insurance to their parents' plans.
What happens after health law ruling?
6/7/12 Since President Obama's health care law passed in 2010, the federal government, states, insurers, doctors and hospitals have been building a complex scaffolding to extend insurance to 30 million more Americans. The question is: Will the structure be completed, or dismantled?
A Supreme Court decision expected as early as Monday could eliminate a key plank of the law: the mandate that nearly everyone obtain insurance. The court also is weighing whether to strike down other sections of the new insurance marketplaces where 20 million people — those already with individual policies and those seeking them — are supposed to find health plans.
Already, 14 states — including California, Colorado and West Virginia— have authorized the creation of online "exchanges" where, starting in 2014, those who aren't covered by employers can buy insurance. In addition, doctors, hospitals and insurers have been changing the way they do business as they prepare for an influx of customers and new incentives that reward more coordination between healers, more preventative care and financial penalties on poor performers.
BLOG: Poll: 68% want court to void all or part of health care law
"The train is really well out of the station at this point," says Sara Collins, a vice president at the Commonwealth Fund, a health foundation in New York City.
The justices also will decide whether to block the government from broadening the federal-state Medicaid program to cover 17 million additional people, the program's greatest expansion since it was created a half-century ago.
Undoing health law could have messy ripple effects
June 10, 2012 Even if the Supreme Court overturns President Barack Obama's health care law, employers can keep offering popular coverage for the young adult children of their workers.
But the parents' taxes would go up.
That's only one of the messy potential ripple effects when the Supreme Court delivers its verdict on the Affordable Care Act this month. The law affects most major components of the U.S. health care system in its effort to extend coverage to millions of uninsured people.
Because the legislation is so complicated, an orderly unwinding would prove difficult if it were overturned entirely or in part.
Better Medicare prescription benefits, currently saving hundreds of dollars for older people with high drug costs, would be suspended. Ditto for preventive care with no co-payments, now available to retirees and working families alike.
Partially overturning the law could leave hospitals, insurers and other service providers on the hook for tax increases and spending cuts without the law's promise of more paying customers to offset losses.
If the law is upheld, other kinds of complications could result.
The nation is so divided that states led by Republicans are largely unprepared to carry out critical requirements such as creating insurance markets. Things may not settle down.
"At the end of the day, I don't think any of the major players in the health insurance industry or the provider community really wants to see the whole thing overturned," said Christine Ferguson, a health policy expert who was commissioner of public health in Massachusetts when Mitt Romney was governor.
"Even though this is not the most ideal solution, at least it is moving us forward, and it does infuse some money into the system for coverage," said Ferguson, now at George Washington University. As the GOP presidential candidate, Romney has pledged to wipe Obama's law off the books. But he defends his Massachusetts law that served as a prototype for Obama's.
While it's unclear how the justices will rule, oral arguments did not go well for the Obama administration. The central issue is whether the government can require individuals to have health insurance and fine them if they don't.
That mandate takes effect in 2014, at the same time that the law would prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage to people with existing health problems. Most experts say the coverage guarantee would balloon costs unless virtually all people joined the insurance pool.
Opponents say Congress overstepped its constitutional authority by issuing the insurance mandate. The administration says the requirement is permissible because it serves to regulate interstate commerce. Most people already are insured. The law provides subsidies to help uninsured middle-class households pay premiums and expands Medicaid to pick up more low-income people.
The coverage for young adults up to age 26 on a parent's health insurance is a popular provision that no one's arguing about. A report last week from the Commonwealth Fund estimated that 6.6 million young adults have taken advantage of the benefit, while a new Gallup survey showed the uninsured rate for people age 18-25 continues to decline, down to 23 percent from 28 percent when the law took effect.
Families will be watching to see if their 20-somethings transitioning to the work world will get to keep that newfound security.
Because the benefit is a winner with consumers, experts say many employers and insurers would look for ways to keep offering it even if there's no legal requirement to do so.
But economist Paul Fronstin of the Employee Benefit Research Institute says many parents would pay higher taxes as a result because they would have to pay for the young adult's coverage with after-tax dollars. Under the health care law, that coverage now comes out of pre-tax dollars.
Fronstin says there's no way to tell exactly how much that tax increase might be, but a couple of hundred dollars a year or more is a reasonable ballpark estimate. Upper-income taxpayers would have a greater liability.
"Adult children aren't necessarily dependents for tax purposes, but an employer can allow anyone to be on a plan, just like they now allow domestic partners," said Fronstin. "If your employer said, 'I'm going to let you keep this,' it would become a taxable benefit for certain people."
Advocates for the elderly are also worried about untoward ripple effects.
If the entire law is overturned, seniors with high prescription costs in Medicare's "donut hole" coverage gap could lose annual discounts averaging about $600. AARP policy director David Certner says he would hope the discounts could remain in place at least through the end of this year.
Yet that might not be possible. Lacking legal authority, Medicare would have to take away the discounts. Drugmakers, now bearing the cost, could decide they want to keep offering discounts voluntarily. But then they'd risk running afoul of other federal rules that bar medical providers from offering financial inducements to Medicare recipients.
"I don't think anyone has any idea," said Certner.
A mixed verdict from the high court would be the most confusing outcome. Some parts of the law would be struck down while others lurch ahead.
Obama’s collaboration with Big Pharma exposed
By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, June 10, 2012 13:46 EDT
WASHINGTON — In order to secure his sweeping 2010 health care reforms, US President Barack Obama’s staff oversaw an unusually close collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry, documents show.
Republicans in the House of Representatives have uncovered a trove of emails and other memos showing how the Obama administration coordinated its $150 million advertising campaign with major pharmaceutical companies.
Nearly $70 million was spent through two Super PACs — political action committees — organized in part by White House officials, including Jim Messina, Obama’s former deputy chief of staff who is now managing his 2012 reelection campaign.
Memos released Friday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee revealed the close links between the Obama administration and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, also known as PhRMA.
SUPREME COURT RULES OBAMACARE CONSTITUTIONAL
The Supreme Court ruled that Obama’s landmark healthcare bill, including the controversial “individual mandate,” is constitutional.
“The Court holds that the mandate violates the Commerce Clause, but that doesn’t matter [because] there are five votes for the mandate to be constitutional under the taxing power,” SCOTUS blog reports.
The court’s decision comes as a major defeat to those who have fought against the healthcare overhaul since before President Obama signed it into law in 2010. U.S. citizens are still legally required to purchase insurance via the federal government and the bill’s expansion of Medicaid, although now limited, still stands. This means roughly 30 million uninsured low-income Americans are still eligible for coverage through the bill’s expansion of the state-run entitlement program.
“The bottom line: the entire ACA [Affordable Care Act] is upheld, with the exception that the federal government‘s power to terminate states’ Medicaid funds is narrowly read,” SCOTUS Blog reports.
The court stressed in its opinion that refusal to comply with the mandate will result in a tax.
Chief Justice Roberts was joined by Justices Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor in upholding the mandate.
“Wow. So Kennedy voted with conservatives, Roberts with liberals. Umpire, indeed,” the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein tweeted.
In his dissent, Justice Kennedy said “In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety.”
After hearing oral arguments on the constitutionality of the bill in March, the Supreme Court Justices focused on these four points:
Whether the “individual” mandate is constitutional
Whether SCOTUS has the authority to rule on a tax law even though it hasn’t come into effect
If the individual mandate is overturned, will it be cut from the rest of the law as a separate entity or will other provisions fall with it?
Whether the law’s Medicaid expansion is constitutional
Of the four points discussed, the Supreme Court ruled that, as a tax, the individual mandate is constitutional.
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