KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

If It’s Tuesday, It’s The Individual Mandate

In the second day of oral arguments, the Supreme Court is considering the "individual mandate," which is considered the "heart" of the health law. The issue is steeped in politics. 

The Associated Press: Justices Take Up Heart Of Health Care Overhaul Law
The Supreme Court is taking up the key question in the challenge to President Barack Obama's historic health care overhaul: Can the government force people to carry insurance or pay a penalty? The justices hear extended arguments on that topic Tuesday. It's the linchpin of the law's aim to get medical insurance to an additional 30 million people, at a reasonable cost to private insurers and state governments (Sherman, 3/27).

The New York Times: For Justices, A Matter Of Framing The Core Issue On Health Care
However the questions are ultimately framed, the Supreme Court's answers will be grounded in the text of two provisions of the Constitution and in the precedents interpreting them. ... The two powers at issue in the case, set out in Article I, Section 8, concern the regulation of interstate commerce and the imposition of taxes (Liptak, 3/27).

USA Today: Supreme Court To Tackle Controversial Health Care Debate
Monday's hearing paves the way for two more days of oral arguments in a case that has played a central role in this year's presidential campaign and raises questions about the scope of Congress' powers (Health and Wolf, 3/27).

Politico: Mandate A Lose-Lose Proposition For President Obama?
If the Supreme Court upholds health reform's individual mandate, will it really be a victory for President Barack Obama? Or will it just mean he gets to keep owning the least popular part of the law? (Haberkorn, 3/27).

The Washington Post: Health-Care Provision At Center Of Supreme Court Debate Was A Republican Idea
[The mandate] was the brainchild of conservative economists and embraced by some of the nation's most prominent Republicans for nearly two decades. Yet today many of those champions — including presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich — are among the mandate's most vocal critics (Aizenman, 3/26).

NPR: Justices Tackle The Big Question: Can Congress Force You To Buy Insurance
The law provides generous subsidies if you can't afford it, but you must have health insurance, and if you don't, you pay a penalty through your income taxes. The mandate is essentially a trade-off for reducing the costs of health care policies overall and guaranteeing affordable coverage for people with previous medical conditions (Totenberg, 3/27).

The Wall Street Journal: A Small-Business Lobby's Million-Dollar Assault
National Federation of Independent Business lawyer Michael Carvin will argue against the "individual mandate" in President Barack Obama's health-care law, together with former Solicitor General Paul Clement, who is representing 26 states (Needleman and Loten, 3/26).

Bloomberg: Health Law Centerpiece At Risk As High Court Hears Core Argument
The government, defending the president's signature legislative victory, will contend that Congress can require people to buy insurance under its constitutional power to regulate the interstate health-care market (Stohr and Asseo, 3/27).

Reuters: Supreme Court Moves To Heart Of Healthcare Case
The two-hour session on the second day of a historic three-day oral argument will offer a first concrete look at how the nine justices view the law Obama signed two years ago and that still divides his Democrats and rival Republicans (Biskupic and Vicini, 3/27).

Roll Call: Anxiety Permeates Health Care Case
With protests and press conferences outside and respectful silence within, the court began the rare three-day argument Monday with anxiety on both sides over the fate of the most far-reaching federal law in decades. In the first 90 minutes of argument, the justices gave few clues as to how they will ultimately rule, but they appeared eager to do so (Dennis, 3/27)?

NewsHour: Supreme Court Reviews Health Reform Law: A Guide To Day 2
(Tuesday) is really the "main event" from the perspective of many organizations, politicians, businesses and individuals who have been involved with or just have followed the debate ... Both sides in this battle look to one very old and four more recent Supreme Court decisions to bolster their arguments (Kane and Coyle, 3/27).

Fox News: Supreme Court Hearing On Individual Mandate Tees Up Blockbuster Decision
The issue on Tuesday will present the justices the opportunity to determine how much power the federal government has in forcing Americans to purchase a product or enroll in a government program they might otherwise avoid (Ross, 3/27).

CNN: Supreme Court Set To Debate Heart Of Health Care Law
Typical of the ideological divide, the opposing sides do not even agree on what the individual mandate was designed to accomplish. Supporters see it a way of spreading health care costs to a larger pool of individuals, ensuring affordable, quality medical care. ... But opponents see a fundamental constitutional violation: an intrusion into a citizen's personal lives, forcing Americans to purchase a commercial product they may not want or need (Mears, 3/27).

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