KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Supreme Court’s Health Law Ruling: If The Mandate Falls, What’s Next?

News outlets offer analysis about how the high court's decision could play out -- both in terms of policy and politics.

Politico: The Health Reform Ruling: Four Likely Scenarios
A victory in the Supreme Court — less than five months before the presidential election — doesn't guarantee that either party can win over public opinion. And it certainly doesn't signal the end of the debate over health care reform (Haberkorn, 4/1).

The Hill: 5 Key Questions For The Supreme Court To Consider In A Health Care Decision
The over-arching question before the court is whether the law's individual mandate is constitutional. But that's a complicated question, and the two sides of the case don't even agree about how best to ask it. A decision is expected to come in June — just months before the presidential election. The biggest takeaway from last week's arguments was that the mandate is very much in jeopardy. That doesn't mean, however, that the court is sure to strike it down, and the oral arguments helped illuminate several areas the justices will likely consider in their private deliberations (Baker, 3/31).

The Los Angeles Times: Signs Of Supreme Court Activism Worry Reagan Administration Lawyers
After the healthcare arguments, (President Reagan's solicitor general Charles) Fried was among those who worried aloud about the prospect of the Roberts court embarking on a new era of judicial activism. ... His comments highlight a growing divide between an earlier generation of judicial conservatives who stressed a small role for the courts in deciding national controversies and many of today's conservative justices who are more inclined to rein in the government. At the heart of last week's argument over the healthcare law was a dispute over power. Does Congress or the Supreme Court define the limits of economic regulation? (Savage, 3/31).

Politico: Supreme Court Health Care Debate: If The Law Fails, What's Next?
If the justices knock out key parts of the law or bring down the whole thing, the reverberations could be felt across the legal landscape for generations to come, radically reining in the scope of federal power, according to supporters of the law and others who closely track the high court. And if the justices decide the individual mandate is a constitutional overreach, these observers say, federal labor and environmental laws could be the next on the firing line (Gerstein, 4/1).

NPR: The Individual Mandate's Growth In Unpopularity
The idea of an individual mandate to control health care costs, however, is not new. It goes back to 1989 and a man named Mark Pauly. An expert on health care policy, Pauly was part of a group of academics brought to the White House by President George H.W. Bush. The group's task was to fix health care; its solution was to let the marketplace solve it and create an individual mandate. Pauly tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz that, at the time, many Republicans, including the president, loved the idea (3/31).

The Associated Press: Obama's Insurance Requirement Not The Only Mandate
The individual insurance requirement that the Supreme Court is reviewing isn't the first federal mandate involving health care. There's a Medicare payroll tax on workers and employers, for example, and a requirement that hospitals provide free emergency services to indigents. Health care is full of government dictates, some arguably more intrusive than President Barack Obama's overhaul law. It's a wrinkle that has caught the attention of the justices (Alonso-Zaldivar, 4/1).

Stateline: Would 'Obamacare' Demise Mean End Of 'Romneycare,' Too?
With the conservative majority of the Supreme Court asking tough questions about the Affordable Care Act this week in Washington ... legal experts are debating what would happen to the Massachusetts law if some or all of its federal counterpart is struck down. At the center of that question is the constitutional validity of the "individual mandate,"’ which both Massachusetts and the federal government use to require residents to purchase health insurance (Gramlich, 3/30).

St. Louis Beacon: As Supreme Court Ponders Health-Care Law, It May Also Be Pondering Its Credibility
But a 5-4 partisan divide could damage the court's credibility, opening it to criticism that it is acting like just another political branch of government rather than as a neutral interpreter of the law.  Concern about that institutional damage could prompt Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. or Justice Anthony Kennedy to uphold the law (Freivogel, 3/30).

The Associated Press: Congress Gets Rough Treatment At Supreme Court
The Supreme Court left little doubt during last week's marathon arguments over President Barack Obama's health care overhaul that it has scant faith in Congress' ability to get anything done. The views about Congress underlay questions from justices who appear to be on both sides of the argument over the constitutionality of the law's key provision, the individual insurance requirement, as well as whether the entire law should be thrown out if the mandate is struck down (Sherman, 3/31).

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