KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Supreme Court Braces For Health Law Frenzy

The high court is scheduled to hear three days of oral arguments related to the legal challenges to the health law. Amid the expected media attention, political posturing and spin contests, interested parties are finalizing their arguments and strategies.

Politico: Health Law Heads Back Into Spotlight
For those who support the health care reform law, the trick next week will be to get the public to see it as a bunch of pieces -- the parts everyone likes. For the opponents, the goal is to paint it as one big, scary law: "Obamacare" (Haberkorn, 3/20).

The Hill: Supreme Court Faces An Unprecedented Health Care Frenzy
The frenzy generated by the Supreme Court's arguments on the health care reform law next week is likely to dwarf anything the court has ever seen. Lawmakers and interest groups plan to stage protests and events outside the court nearly nonstop, creating a circus-like atmosphere for a case that could redefine the limits of federal power (Baker, 3/20).

NPR: White House Preps For Court's Health Care Ruling
Most of the president's speeches these days focus on jobs or gas prices. But the health care law is his signature achievement, and it always gets a mention at political events. … The law will be back in the spotlight next week when the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments about the Affordable Care Act. The White House is gearing up to defend the policy, sending top administration officials out across the country to explain the law's benefits. The focus this week is on women, who are key health care consumers and an all-important demographic for the president's re-election bid (Liasson, 3/21).

The Hill: Obama Will Avoid Health Care Defense During Court Review
President Obama will not mark the two-year anniversary of his signing of the health care law -- which takes place days before the Supreme Court offers a decision on the constitutionality of his signature legislative achievement. Senior administration officials said on Tuesday that Obama will not be offering a vigorous public defense of the law, holding events or even making public remarks in the lead-up to the Supreme Court case (Parnes, 3/21).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Summary Box: Supreme Court Has A Range Of Options In Ruling On Obama Health Care Law
The Supreme Court has several options in ruling on President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, from upholding the law to striking it down in its entirety (3/20).

Bloomberg: How The Historic Supreme Court Health Care Arguments Will Unfold
The U.S. Supreme Court review of President Barack Obama's health care law carries an unprecedented combination of economic, political and legal stakes. ... Its ruling, probably in late June, will shape the legacies of Obama, the driving force behind the 2010 law, and Chief Justice John Roberts, the Republican appointee whose views remain a mystery. The case may become a legal landmark, determining how much authority the Constitution gives Congress (Stohr, 3/21).

Some coverage examines specific arguments that could be in play --  

Kaiser Health News: The New Jersey Experience: Do Insurance Reforms Unravel Without An Individual Mandate?
In this Kaiser Health News analysis, Jonathan Cohn writes: "The Obama administration has told the court that if it invalidates the mandate it should also invalidate two key insurance reforms that would prevent discrimination because of preexisting conditions. … But is the administration's claim correct? For some clues, the justices could examine what happened in New Jersey, a state that tried to reform its insurance markets without a mandate -- and failed pretty miserably" (Cohn, 3/20).

USA Today: Health Care Law's Defenders Look To George Washington
The father of our country could play a key role in defending what opponents of President Obama's health care law call the mother of all mandates. Seeking precedents for the law's requirement that Americans buy health insurance, some constitutional scholars are reaching back 220 years to a law signed by George Washington: the Militia Act of 1792 (Wolf, 3/20).

Medscape: Supreme Court Oral Arguments on the ACA, Part 2: Medicaid Offers You Can't Refuse, and Severability
The oral arguments on day 3, March 28, while not as central to the case, will be the lengthiest -- 1.5 hours in the morning and 1 hour after a Supreme Court lunch. ... The opposing attorneys will delve into the ACA's dramatic expansion of the Medicaid program, which the 26 state officials view as a usurpation of states' rights ... The Obama administration counters that the Constitution gives Congress not only the power to spend money but also the power to set conditions for federally funded programs (Lowes, 3/20).

Others probe the key question of what happens if the law is overturned or repealed --

Reuters: Q+A: U.S. Health Care: What Would Republicans Do?
As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear legal challenges to President Barack Obama's health care overhaul next week, Republican lawmakers are weighing options for repealing the law or even replacing it with a plan of their own. In fighting the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that will extend health coverage to millions more Americans, Republicans have not offered a definitive alternative (Smith, 3/20).

Reuters: Few Options If Top Court Strikes Part Of Health Law
If the high court opted only to reverse the law's unpopular individual mandate, which requires most adults to purchase health insurance, the Obama administration could look to several alternatives to ensure that enough people participate in coverage to make the law work as envisioned. The options range from a new tax on individuals who do not acquire coverage to financial incentives that could encourage young, healthy people to sign up for insurance. The government could also consider special subsidies for high-risk individuals who are already sick or vulnerable to disease (Morgan 3/20).

And in the background, the continuing analysis of public opinion related to the law --

Los Angeles Times: Obama Health Care Law Not Resonating With Public Yet
Because key provisions of the law have yet to kick in, relatively few people have benefited from it thus far, making Democrats' defense of it a tough sell (Levey, 3/20).

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