KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Perspectives On The Court And The Health Law: Is This Judicial Activism?; Decision Could Define Roberts; Health Economics 101

The New York Times: Activism And The Roberts Court
The ideological nature of the health care case was obvious on the last day of oral argument. By the time the proceedings were over, much of what the conservative justices said in court seemed like part of a politically driven exercise — especially because the issues addressed on Wednesday were not largely constitutional in nature (3/28). 

The New York Times: Opinionator: Moral Arguments 
David: Oh my, my. We spend years arguing about Obamacare (now its official bipartisan name) and after all that muss and fuss it may be struck down. ... Gail: How can this law not be constitutional? The other alternatives are forcing taxpayers to cover the cost of the care in emergency rooms for people who don’t want to pay for their insurance (David Brooks and Gail Collins, 3/28).

Chicago Tribune: If The Law Falls… 
Remember how Obama gathered Republican and Democratic leaders for a televised health care summit in 2010, in what he billed as an attempt to share the best ideas for reform? In the end, the Republican ideas wound up on the cutting-room floor. ... That said, Obama's Republican challenger will need more than slogans to convince voters. ... Lawmakers, candidates: Don't wait to see if the court really does hit the reset button. Start the debate now (3/29).

Boston Globe: If The Court Says No 
But assuming that only the mandate, and not the whole thing, was struck down -- as is considered the likelier scenario -- the law would be weakened, but not necessarily destroyed. There are several options for replacing the mandate (Joshua Green, 3/29).

The Wall Street Journal: The ObamaCare Reckoning 
[T]he bravado of the legal establishment has turned to uncertainty and in some cases outright panic. Everyone who said the decision was an easy fait accompli has been proven wrong by a Court that has treated the constitutional questions that ObamaCare poses with the seriousness they deserve (3/28).

Politico: Moment Of Truth For Justice John Roberts
History shows that the court gets into trouble when it strikes down national legislation on the basis of constitutional principles that majorities of the country intensely dispute. And only about 30 percent of Americans now think the court should overturn the mandate that everyone has to buy health insurance (Jeffrey Rosen, 3/28). 

The Washington Post: Judicial Activists In The Supreme Court 
The irony is that if the court’s conservatives overthrow the mandate, they will hasten the arrival of a more government-heavy system. ... And a court that gave us Bush v. Gore and Citizens United will prove conclusively that it sees no limits on its power, no need to defer to those elected to make our laws (E.J. Dionne Jr., 3/28).

The Hill: Supreme Court Scandals
As judicial precedent was abandoned in the Bush v. Gore and Citizens United cases, which transformed the Supreme Court into a protagonist in partisan and ideological wars, it is time to consider the dangers to the republic of a court whose majority — which could be on the brink of another election-changing party-line vote — increasingly acts as a partisan faction rather than a disinterested adjudicator of the law (Brent Budowsky, 3/28).

The Baltimore Sun: The Case For Obamacare
[T]he inaptness of the comparisons they used to call the individual mandate into question reveal the uniqueness of the health insurance market and the propriety of Congress' decision to regulate it in the way it did. And even as the justices questioned whether Congress overstepped its powers, they risked doing the same (3/28).

The Sacramento Bee: Justices Need To Study Up On Health Insurance
It is clear that Roberts and Kennedy will be the swing votes determining the outcome of this case. While at times they have appeared as confused as the others by the health care market, they do at least understand the basic problem that Congress was attempting to remedy: The one in six Americans without insurance not only bear the stress and burden of lacking good health care, they impose costs on everyone else – taxpayers, hospitals and the insured (3/29).

The Sacramento Bee: Head to Head: Is The 'Individual Mandate' Of Health Care Reform Constitutional?
Ben Boychuk: No. Obamacare's individual mandate is unprecedented. Worse – as the plaintiffs seeking to overturn the mandate argued in their brief to the Supreme Court and again in their oral argument Tuesday – it is "unbounded." ...  Pia Lopez: Yes. Those who oppose the law actually argued before the justices Tuesday that Congress under its commerce power could require individuals to buy insurance at the point they ask a doctor or hospital for medical care – but not in advance. Isn't that still a mandate? In any case, no insurance system, which aims to pool risks, could possibly work that way (3/29).

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