Health Reform Law Facing Showdown In Courts, Congress
News outlets looked at political and legal issues surrounding the health law.
The New York Times: "As the Obama administration presses ahead with the health care law, officials are bracing for the possibility that a federal judge in Virginia will soon reject its central provision as unconstitutional and, in the worst case for the White House, halt its enforcement until higher courts can rule. The judge, Henry E. Hudson of Federal District Court in Richmond, has promised to rule by the end of the year on the constitutionality of the law's requirement that most Americans obtain insurance, which takes effect in 2014."
"While many newly empowered Republican lawmakers have vowed to repeal the health care law in Congress, a more immediate threat may rest in the federal courts in cases brought by Republican officials in dozens of states. Not only would an adverse ruling confuse Americans and attack the law's underpinnings, it could frustrate the steps hospitals, insurers and government agencies are taking to carry out the law" (Sack and Pear, 11/26).
The Hill: "A decision this week by a federal judge in Ohio marks at least the third time a legal challenge to Democrats' healthcare law has been allowed to go forward, underscoring the extent to which the legal push for repeal is gaining momentum. ... A number of Republicans have signed onto a 21-state challenge to the law that seems almost certain to end up at the Supreme Court. Newly elected governors in at least five states are also preparing to join the fray, even as advocates of the law push back. ... The Ohio lawsuit is one of about 20 healthcare reform challenges that have been filed across the country, according to information compiled by The Independent Women's Forum. While some are narrowly focused - physician-owned hospitals in Texas, for example, are alleging discrimination against their business model - several directly challenge the individual mandate" (Pecquet, 11/27).
The Hill, in a separate story: "Obama administration officials this week told a federal judge that even if the healthcare reform law's individual mandate is ruled unconstitutional, other parts of the law should be allowed to stand. ... The administration made the argument Tuesday in a filing in Florida's multi-state lawsuit. ... 'Some limited set of provisions of the [healthcare reform] Act cannot survive' if the mandate is stricken, the administration argues. 'Other parts of the statute, however, are plainly severable from ... the minimum coverage provision.' Democrats, policy experts and the health insurance industry have long argued that the controversial mandate to buy insurance is vital to making the law's reforms work. Without it, they argue, people could wait until they're sick before buying coverage that can't be denied to them. (Pecquet, 11/26).
Roll Call: "Defunding the health care law - and ultimately repealing it - will be Chip Cravaack's priority when he joins the House in the 112th Congress, the Minnesota Republican told NPR on Wednesday. Cravaack, who upset longtime Democratic Rep. James Oberstar in the 8th district, said competition is the key to accessible, affordable and quality health care. ... He acknowledged that a full repeal is unlikely so long as Democrats control the Senate and White House. ... Neal Conan of NPR's 'Talk of the Nation' conducted the interview (Miller, 11/25).
McClatchy Newspapers: "U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler said last week he partially blames the Obama administration and U.S. House leadership for Democrats' election losses and his extremely narrow re-election. ... In a wide-ranging interview last week, Chandler said Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should have focused on the economy before attempting to reform health care. 'I think it was a serious strategic error on the part of the administration to take on health care when the public was agitated about the economy,' he said (Abdullah, 11/27).