KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

On Its Birthday, Health Law Feted As Giving Consumers ‘Control,’ Denigrated For Provoking ‘Showdown’

On the second anniversary of the enactment of the law, commentators offer Supreme Court advice on historic arguments next week, examine public opinion on the overhaul and note the political consequences.

USA Today: Romney: Why I’d Repeal ObamaCare
Friday is the second anniversary of ObamaCare. It is past time to abolish the program, root and branch. The Supreme Court will soon have a crack at this; arguments about the program's constitutionality open before it next week. But whatever the justices decide in what is certain to be a landmark decision, the case against ObamaCare extends far beyond questions about its constitutionality. President Obama's program is an unfolding disaster for the American economy, a budget-busting entitlement, and a dramatic new federal intrusion into our lives (Mitt Romney, 3/22).

Minneapolis Star Tribune:  Kathleen Sebelius: Health Care Reform Helps Many
Thanks to the health care law, the health insurance market is no longer stacked in favor of big insurance companies. Instead, consumers ... are getting more control of their health care. And millions of Americans who have been locked out of the market or have lived in fear of losing their coverage are gaining access to the care they need to stay healthy and thrive (HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, 3/22).

The New York Times: The Severability Doctrine
We believe that imposing the mandate was within Congress’s powers to regulate commerce and that the legislation should be upheld. But if the Supreme Court strikes the mandate down, the rest of the law should stand, and Congress should have to decide what happens next (Abbe R. Gluck and Michael J. Graetz, 3/22).

The Wall Street Journal: Liberty And ObamaCare
Few legal cases in the modern era are as consequential, or as defining, as the challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that the Supreme Court hears beginning Monday. The powers that the Obama Administration is claiming change the structure of the American government as it has existed for 225 years. Thus has the health-care law provoked an unprecedented and unnecessary constitutional showdown that endangers individual liberty (3/22).

The Washington Post: Obamacare: The Reckoning
Obamacare dominated the 2010 midterms, driving its Democratic authors to a historic electoral shellacking. But since then, the issue has slipped quietly underground. Now it's back, summoned to the national stage by the confluence of three disparate events: the release of new Congressional Budget Office cost estimates, the approach of Supreme Court hearings on the law's constitutionality and the issuance of a compulsory contraception mandate (Charles Krauthammer, 3/22).

USA Today: Editorial: As Health Law Turns 2, The Demonization Continues
President Obama signed health reform into law two years ago today, and the president no doubt wishes the controversial measure that has come to be known as "ObamaCare" was more popular. But given the non-stop attacks and demonization, it's surprising that reform isn't less popular. Most polls, including the USA TODAY/Gallup survey, show Americans remain deeply but evenly split over the law (3/22).

USA Today: Opposing View: Scrap The Affordable Care Act
It's time to scrap the Affordable Care Act and try again. One thing hasn't changed: There continues to be bipartisan agreement that the U.S. health care system is riddled with overuse, underuse, and misuse of therapies; senseless inefficiencies; and inadequate opportunities for affordable insurance. The U.S. needs real health care reform (Douglas Holtz-Eakin, 3/22).

The Washington Post: Judging The Justices Over Conflicts Of Interest
The subject of judicial recusal has attracted attention, focused on Justices Clarence Thomas and Elena Kagan, as the Supreme Court argument on Obamacare draws closer. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. implicitly acknowledged this question in his 2011 year-end report when he defended, without explicitly naming them, the propriety of their sitting (Arlen Specter, 3/22).

The Baltimore Sun: Individual Mandate Is Constitutional
On Monday, the Supreme Court will commence a nearly unprecedented six hours of oral argument concerning the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), signed into law two years ago tomorrow.  … Striking down the individual mandate would introduce a new and deeply problematic chapter in the history of the Commerce Clause. For the first time since the New Deal, Congress would no longer hold a vital power of national concern, namely, the authority to regulate all economic subject matter substantially affecting commerce (Leslie Meltzer Henry and Maxwell L. Stearns, 3/22).

JAMA: The Stark Choices Ahead On The Future Of Health Care
The economy might trump health care in the minds of most Americans as they enter voting booths this November, but there are far-reaching implications for the future of the health system that turn on who wins control of the Presidency, Congress, and state houses across the country. In fact, policy decisions made over the next few years may be among the most consequential for health policy than in any other period since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965 (Larry Levitt, 3/22).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: 20 Million Women Have Benefited From 2-Year-Old Law
These changes (from the health law) are life-changing for millions of women. But instead of seeing how much this law benefits women -- and working together to make it even better -- many Wisconsin lawmakers are fighting to stop meaningful implementation of this law. They pay no heed to the over 413,000 women who already have access to free preventive care as a result of this law, nor do they care that without the law only 13% of health plans in the individual market include maternity care (Sara Finger, 3/22).

The Wall Street Journal: Romney's Health Care Duck 
RomneyCare is why a significant contingent of Republican primary voters refuse to vote for the putative front-runner. Mr. Romney had his chance to fix this via his big speech on health care at the University of Michigan in May, 2011. Yet fretful of furthering his reputation as a flip-flopper, he stuck by his law, hiding behind the 10th Amendment. "Our plan was a state solution to a state problem," he said, meaning that while it might look like ObamaCare and walk like ObamaCare and quack like ObamaCare, it was really just a harmless Massachusetts duck (Kimberley A. Strassel, 3/22).

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