KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Views On Supreme Court Case: Both Sides Stage Assault On The Constitution; Obama Overreached; Law Provides Basic Needs

As the date of the high court arguments grows nearer, news outlets have a number of editorials and opinions about the health law case.

The New York Times: Cry, The Beloved Constitution 
Conservatives increasingly bemoan Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce, as illustrated by the debate over the Affordable Care Act's requirement that individuals buy health insurance. They argue that Congress can only regulate activity, not inactivity, and so when it gets involved in a decision by a consumer to not purchase health care, it is going far beyond its reach. If only it were that simple (J. Harvie Wilkinson III, 3/11).

Politico: ACA Case Reminiscent Of 19th-Century Litigation
More fundamentally, in 1937, the court stopped asking these kinds of questions. It concluded that Congress should decide how to regulate the economy. … In other words, as the court decided in the wake of the New Deal, democratic accountability provides the real defense against intrusive economic regulations. Whatever one thinks of the wisdom of the individual mandate or of health insurance reform generally, the lesson of the past 75 years has been that the Constitution provides for a democratic resolution of the issue. Ever since 1937, the court has not needed six hours of argument to figure out that the choice lies with the people's representatives, in Congress. We'll see if the court's ruling, like its argument schedule, reflects a return to an earlier period (Robert Schapiro, 3/11).

Politico: Striking 'Obamacare' A Rejection Of Overreach
Striking down the law would certainly be a direct rejection of the federal government overreach by the president, a repudiation of what is touted as his major legislative achievement. A decision supporting the constitutionality of the individual mandate might intuitively seem to be a validation of the vision of Obama and fellow Democrats of expanding government authority. A ruling of constitutionality, however, also promises to galvanize the opposition and become a rallying point for Republicans (Scott Atlas, 3/11).

Politico: Affordable Care Act's Many Benefits
Congress carefully weighed its authority in writing the law. And a majority of lower-court judges who have ruled on it, including some of the leading conservatives on the bench, have agreed that it's constitutional. In fact, it was Reagan appointee Laurence Silberman who declared last year that challenges to the law have no support "in either the text of the Constitution or Supreme Court precedent." We have every reason to believe the Supreme Court will take the same view. And that's good news because by protecting the law it will also be protecting the care of countless Americans who are already being helped by the law's new benefits, protections and tax breaks (HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, 3/11).

Politico: Feds' Power Grab Must Be Stopped
The court should reaffirm the basic constitutional bargain struck among the states that makes our federal government one of limited, enumerated powers. The act's chief problem is its individual mandate, which requires virtually everyone to obtain health insurance coverage simply as a condition of living in America. Forced conscription into a commercial market is a startling new exercise of federal power that Congress has never before attempted (Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, 3/11).

(San Jose) Mercury News: Study Reveals Need To Continue Obama's Health Care Reforms
The court should uphold the reforms. Mandating insurance is hardly different from mandating payments into Social Security. And the need for the significant reforms advocated by President Barack Obama and denounced by all of the Republican presidential candidates has never been more apparent. A shocking study released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that 20 percent of U.S. families are having trouble paying their medical bills (3/10).

The Wall Street Journal: Coffee Is An Essential Benefit Too
Dear President Obama, Can you believe the nerve of employers? Many of them still seem to think that they should be allowed to determine the benefits they offer. I guess they haven't read your 2,000-page health law. It's the government's job now. That's a good thing, too. Employers for too long have been able to restrict our access to essential health services like contraception by making us pay some of the bill. Really, it's amazing that we aren't all dead. Now, thanks to you, we'll enjoy free and universal access to preventative care just like workers do in Cuba. Even so, there are still many essential benefits that the government must mandate to make the U.S. the freest country in the world (Allysia Finley, 3/12).

Los Angeles Times: Mary Brown, 'Obamacare' Foe -- and Broke
A woman whose case is before the Supreme Court is an exemplar of a problem the health care law was designed to address (3/11).

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