Healthcare News March 27, 2012

  • OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Supreme Court begins health law review

    When is a tax not a tax? When Democrats and Republicans agree to call it something else, of course.

    That’s the take-away from Monday’s first round of healthcare arguments before the Supreme Court, which revolved around whether the court can even rule before 2014, when most of the law’s provisions take effect. Both parties are itching for a fight over the meat of the matter — whether the law’s mandate that everyone have insurance is constitutional — so they both argued that the penalty for failing to comply isn’t a tax, which couldn’t be challenged until it goes into effect under the Anti-Injunction Act of 1867.

    The Justices seemed to accept the argument, increasing the chance that they’ll rule on the merits of the case in June rather than punt until after the presidential election. The administration’s legal contortions weren’t lost on the court, however, setting up a difficult defense of the mandate on Tuesday.

    “Tomorrow you’re going to be back,” Justice Samuel Alito told Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr., “and you’re going to be arguing that the penalty is a tax.”

    Healthwatch’s Sam Baker was inside the Supreme Court and has the low-down on Monday’s debate.

  • Kucinich: Single-payer healthcare on its way regardless of how Supreme Court rules

    The Supreme Court’s review of President Obama’s healthcare reform law is just another step on the inevitable path toward a single-payer medical system, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) said Monday.

    “The cost of health care continues to grow because the costs cannot be constrained within the context of that for-profit system,” Kucinich said in a statement after the high court completed the first of three days of oral arguments on the law. “Whether the Supreme Court upholds the law or strikes it down, single-payer is the only alternative that can meet our nation’s needs.”

    {mosads}Kucinich was a crucial vote in favor of the healthcare reform law, which he thought preserved too large a role for for-profit insurers. He introduced an amendment that passed by a bipartisan 27-19 vote during the Education and Labor Committee mark-up of the House version that would have helped states to pursue single-payer reforms, in which the government is the sole source of essential health coverage, if they so chose.

    The amendment was stripped from the final bill. Instead, the law calls for all states to have health insurance exchanges where residents will be able to choose among a variety of federally subsidized private health plans.

    “My amendment was one of the first single-payer legislative victories in Congress,” Kucinich said. “It won’t be the last.”

  • Gohmert: Liberals should fear ‘redneck president’ if court upholds mandate

    If Obama gains authority “to trample on religious rights,” a conservative will “have the right to rule over those,” too.

  • Supreme Court signals it will not punt on healthcare decision

    The first day of oral arguments centered on whether the court can reach a decision before the mandate takes effect. 

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