KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

The Supreme Court Arguments Are Over – What Happens Now?

News outlets sum up the oral arguments and preview when to expect a decision, what impact the legal review might have on politics and what other ripple effects could occur.

The Wall Street Journal: Three Days Of Hearings Yield Five Take-Aways
It is notoriously hard to predict how the Supreme Court will rule on a case based on justices' questioning of attorneys. But with this week's health-care arguments having wrapped up, here is what we know (Radnofsky, 3/28).

Kaiser Health News: Vigorous Questions on Severability, Medicaid On Final Day (Video)
Legal analyst Stuart Taylor, Jr., talks with Jackie Judd about the final day's arguments during which the justices considered issues as basic as 'what is liberty?' and whether it's better to 'fix' flaws in legislation or scrap it entirely (3/28).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: High Court Arguments Suggest Justices Could Produce Partisan Split Familiar In Health Debate
The court's decision, due in June, will affect the way virtually every American receives and pays for health care and surely will reverberate in this year’s campaigns for president and Congress. The political effects could be even larger if the court votes 5-4 with all its Republican-appointed justices prevailing over all the Democratic appointees to strike down the entire law, or several important parts of it. Not since 2000, when the court resolved the Bush v. Gore dispute over Florida election returns that sealed George W. Bush's election as president, has a Supreme Court case drawn so much attention (3/29).

The Associated Press: 3 Days Of Hearings Over, 2 Justices May Be Key
[T]he questions justices asked the lawyers are the only tea leaves to read, however unreliable. That has led to the belief the fate of the health care law could lie with two justices. Justice Anthony Kennedy's mixed queries left the most room for him to be seen as a possible swing vote to decide the issue. Chief Justice John Roberts also spoke up for both sides of the issue at times (Cass, 3/29).

Roll Call: Three Branches In Historic Clash Over Health Care
For three days this week, Washington, D.C., was riveted as the three branches of government faced off dramatically in a packed room on First Street Northeast, and when it was all over, President Barack Obama’s health care law was hanging by a thread. Dozens of members of Congress attended at least one of the three days of oral arguments before the Supreme Court, including the principal authors of the law and its chief opponents. Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and top White House aide Valerie Jarrett were among those representing the White House(Dennis, 3/29).

The Washington Post: Supreme Court's Health-Care Ruling Could Deal Dramatic Blow To Obama Presidency
The Supreme Court's skeptical consideration of President Obama's landmark health-care legislation this week has forced his supporters to contemplate the unthinkable: that the justices could throw out the law and destroy the most far-reaching accomplishment of the Obama presidency. The fate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is uncertain. … White House officials are refusing publicly to consider that the law might be struck down or to discuss contingency plans, insisting that they do not address hypothetical questions (Gardner, 3/28).

USA Today: Analysis: Day 3 Of Arguments In Health Care Case
Two years and six days after President Obama signed the most sweeping overhaul of the nation's health care system since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, the law itself is on life support. … By the time it was over Wednesday afternoon, virtually everyone following the three-year battle within the three branches of the federal government had a strong opinion on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Everyone, that is, except for a few justices who hold its fate in their hands (Wolf and Heath, 3/39).

McClatchy: Supreme Court Wraps Up Arguments Over Health Care Law
The future of health care hangs in the balance, as do some political fates, with the conclusion Wednesday of Supreme Court arguments that showed the justices divided but clearly willing to rule on the major questions at issue. Longer than any since the 1960s, the arguments that ended Wednesday afternoon both clarified and clouded the potential outcome, with justices on the last day assessing whether most of the 2010 health care law could survive even if its most controversial provision — the individual mandate — were struck down (Doyle and Lightman, 3/28).

NewsHour (Video): Supreme Court Wraps Up Health Reform Law Hearings: What’s Next?
In the final day of Supreme Court hearings on the Affordable Care Act, justices questioned the constitutionality of requiring states to expand Medicaid coverage to more individuals. Betty Ann Bowser reports, and Marcia Coyle and Susan Dentzer discuss with Gwen Ifill whether the law could survive without an insurance mandate (3/29).

Bloomberg: Secret Vote Opens Health Law Review Shaping Court Legacy
U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts will probably ask each of his eight Supreme Court colleagues gathered in an oak-paneled room tomorrow where they stand on the law that would expand health insurance to at least 30 million Americans and affect one-sixth of the economy. The secret, preliminary vote, following the court’s standard practice, will kick off three months of behind-the- scenes deliberations on the fate of the law. The outcome will shape Roberts’s own legacy, influence President Barack Obama's re-election prospects and potentially deepen the partisan gulf that is already dividing the country (Stohr and Stern, 3/29).

The Associated Press: No Change In US Health Care While Court Decides
Nothing much changes for Americans' medical care while the Supreme Court mulls the fate of President Barack Obama’s health care law. The wait might take three months. Decisions can come anytime, but complex cases argued in the spring often emerge near the end of the session, in late June (3/29).

Reuters/Chicago Tribune: White House: No Contingency Plan If Healthcare law Rejected
The White House said on Wednesday that it was not working on contingency plans for President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, in the event that the Supreme Court struck down all or part of the sweeping reforms. After three days of landmark Supreme Court hearings that raised doubts about the law's fate, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the administration remains confident that the 2010 reform measure would be upheld when justices issue their ruling toward the end of June (Morgan and Mason, 3/28).

Politico: Justices To Congress: It's In Your Court After Health-Care Ruling
If the Supreme Court undercuts President Barack Obama’s health care law, Congress is prepared to do the following: nothing. The justices seemed hot on the idea Wednesday that legislators can clean up whatever mess is left behind if the court strikes down the individual mandate or the whole law (Allen and Dobias, 3/28).

The Hill: Justices Grapple With Polarized Congress
On Wednesday, it was the Supreme Court’s turn to grapple with a reality that the rest of the country has come to know all too well: the political polarization of the modern Congress. In considering whether they could strike the individual insurance mandate without overturning the entirety of President Obama’s healthcare law, the nine justices had to consider the likelihood that a divided Congress could fix a law once its core component had been taken out. Lawyers for both the government and the opponents of the law argued that simply striking the mandate while leaving in place corresponding new insurance regulations could result in a spike in premiums that Congress did not intend (Berman, 3/28).

The New York Times: Few Minds Are Changed By Arguments In Court
Three days of sharp debate over the fate of the Obama administration's signature accomplishment seems to have reinforced what many Americans already believe about the health care overhaul, but with an extra dose of repulsion or delight. The arguments before the court that will ultimately decide whether the law is struck down will not have any practical impact until June, when the justices' decision is expected. But many people across the country who paid close attention had already made up their minds, as interviews with nearly three dozen people over the last few days made clear (Saulny, 3/28).

National Journal: After The Ruling
The three days of arguments are over, protesters are going home, and the nine Supreme Court justices are left to decide among themselves what to do with health care reform. They’re expected to rule in June, but no matter what they decide, health care costs are not going to go down any time soon. Whether the justices leave the Affordable Care Act of 2010 intact, take out the individual mandate, or throw the whole thing out, health care reform is a work in progress and will be for decades to come (Fox, 3/29).

Kaiser Health News: Slideshow: Days 1-3: Citizens Gather As Supreme Court Begins Review Of Health Law
This collection of photos offers images of what was going on this week outside the Supreme Court, where Americans gathered to express their support or opposition to the law -- or just to see history being made (3/28).

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