Health care reform study aids

All the nation that pays attention is paying especial attention to the U.S. Supreme Court this week as it considers health care reform. Chris Henry is working on a story about a local woman who says she has insurance and has received benefits because of the new law. She will be taking a letter to Rob McKenna, Washington attorney general, asking him to drop the lawsuit he is in along with 25 other states. I wouldn’t look for McKenna to reconsider at this point.

When I had a chance to sidle up to the McKenna the governor candidate when he visited the area in January, he joked that the odds were 5-4, a reference to the idea that the decision could be a 5-4 split among the justices.

Calling it “The” decision is actually incorrect. Today the court hears arguments on whether it should be considering the law now, or wait until the mandate actually kicks in, which is 2014.

The mandate decision, whether Congress can write a law forcing you to buy something, is the key question, and those arguments are on Tuesday. On Wednesday is an argument over whether the entire law should be scrapped if the mandate is killed.

Should you like to be informed as the debate goes on, allow me to provide you several links that will prepare for conversations around the watercooler on Facebook. provides the primer Everything you want to know about the health care law* and also gives you a chance to check out the truth or falsehood of several claims about the law. I’m not sure why there is an asterisk in the headline. Maybe it’s an unexplained admission that “everything” probably isn’t accurate.

On NPR’s All Things Considered is a piece about this week’s activities. The package begins with a story about a guy who sells places in line to get into the hearing for $36 an hour. The first customer placed someone in line on Friday, for Tuesday’s arguments. Further on Nina Totenberg responds that she doesn’t know which side will win, but Clarence Thomas is the only one predicted to be solidly against the act. Four justices — Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor — are predicted to be locks in favor of the law and the constitutionality of Congress mandating what people have to buy. Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito are considered in play and Anthony Kennedy is seen as a swing vote. An interesting tidbit: Chief Justice John Roberts could end up voting to uphold the law if there is already a 5-3 vote among the associate justices, because a 5-4 decision “wouldn’t be good for the court as an institution of the country.”

The New York Times and ABC News both have stories on a 1942 Supreme Court decision that serves as the basis for arguments on both sides.

Finally, on Salon, an academic explains some of the motivation behind how judges may rule. Andrew M. Koppelman, John Paul Stevens Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University, goes into some detail explaining some of the difficulty for the justices in overturning the law. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t do it, but there are consequences that go beyond the new things the law introduces.

When you read the follow-up news stories on each day’s arguments, you could very well get an inkling of where this will end up in June. Both sides have reason to be optimistic, and to worry.

6 thoughts on “Health care reform study aids

  1. One of the editorials in Sundays Sun brought up the freedom of enterring and cancelling a contract. The argument is the penalty for not obtaining health insurance removes the freedom of contracting. What about this?

  2. Despite Chris Henrys selective story on the merits of the system , the majority of this country that is not represented in her article is against the expensive new health care bill.

    Basically a turning point for this country . Can the Federal Government dictate to all citizens what it has to purchase from a private business. Health Care is just one example . Could be Life Insurance , could be mandated preschool . A Republic Contitutionally protected from the The mandates of the Central Government in their respective states or to become a country that has to hope the Federal Government makes the right decisions in our private lives from hence forward .

  3. No more government control.

    The government is killing us with mismanagement of Medicare and Medicaid – forcing health care businesses to grossly inflate their prices to cover the small reduced percent Medicare and Medicaid will pay of each procedure or needed patient item.

    Trouble is the costs remain inflated when the patient must pay for needed items and the business gains double their money inadvertently cheating those patients stretching their dollars until their savings are flitted away.

    Some of you may remember Dr. Steele in Bremerton. She was my doctor and one of the most frank, empathetic outspoken doctors I knew at that time.

    Her unexpected death and church packed funeral brought people and testimonials from hundreds of people – many of whom spoke up at the service.
    The love, devotion and reverence Dr. Steele’s patients had for her filled the church. We heard story after story of what that wonderful humanitarian and doctor did for those who came to her without insurance or means to pay.

    No to more government control.

  4. Harry I believe that is the issue that is heart of the lawsuit . The freedom of citizens to contract or not to , a Federal mandate is Un Consttutional. Alito asked a question today to the the lawyers defending the mandate, if the Government could also compel people to purchase graves before they died also . So far I have heard only emotional points to this as Heaslth Care is described as a right , or in the case of Chris Henrys article where you put a face on a person who will possble be in worse shape if the Bill is struck down by the court . Of course the face is not the busisness owner laying off workers because of increased costs , or the quality of care being lessened . In Europe seniors are actully finding dificulty in their care based on their Government program because the government spent too much on their socialistic programs . Not tough choices on care are being made because the people depend on the government .

    The Conststituion is a frame work for which we operate , good laws can be legislated and bad ones , good ones and bad ones can be Unconstitutional . Our form of government was established with hindshight to what happens when the Central Government dictates to those how to live regardless of their intentions . Freedom has always been the price . Noticed no coverage of the religious freedom issues for instance in regards to this Bill , it was turned into a debate about concentraceptive. The Federal Government did not respect , nor the secular voices concern themselves with the rights of individuals . In fact they debated the issue as certain rights trumping others . Our government was designed to protect our rights , not make up new ones or pick and choose the importance of them through legislation.

  5. There are many parts of the law that I do not care for but the over-riding truth is that every single “first world”, most “second world” and even some “third world” countries have universal health care. We provide financial aid to many countries that provide universal health care for their citizens yet we are unable to do the same. Mick, you are provided a healthcare package as a condition of your employment with a government agency, why is that okay for your employer to be “forced” to purchase insurance for you and your dependents? Our elected officials have decided not to work together to find a method of providing health care for all of our citizens. Frankly, I blame those who’s intention it is to shut down our government. That groups name starts with a T and it is not the Taliban.

  6. Jane I have a good insurance provided by the state , also because of My union negotiating for it . I am LUCKY, I am not entitled to it or fel that way . The state is not forced to give me a health care package .

    Many corporations provide health insurance because it attracts workers . In fact I gave up certain things to work my job , health care was more important to mke then higher wages when I took my job . I asm usually working when other people are off, holidays , and of course when i was new i was on call , had a beeper and came running to get my 10.88 an hour wage when called , available 24 hours a day . Yikes in a recession now my job looks good I agree . Actually it is now , in wages and benefits after 20 years . , I am fortunate .But the government does not owe me anything , protect my rights .

    My own personal opinion is it is a mistake that we hooked our Health care on on our employer , for one what does people who make cars for instance know about the kind of health care the diverse range employees want or need. One good thing I have always thought about insurance linked up t0 the person , single payer even , is it gives the person more freedom to be and follow the career they want.

    The government mandated its citizens to purchase a product , a product that had NARAL, Planned parenthood protesting on the steps during this trial to promote that product . . On a Bill that we were told did not pay for abortions for example . Our government lied to us , because you have no problem perhaps with the soical aspects , I would think you would with the out right lying , backroom deals with insurance and drug companies, plus the higher cost it has turnedout to be . You do realize states have been burdened with higher medicaid bills also becase of the mandate , so when you hear of say mentally ill patients in Kitsap being let loose of their safety net , know that this Bill has caused the states to increase their own payments for medical care . Thus the state was not allowed to make a choice between their increased payments and helping the mentally ill , education , or wasting it on a Totem pole . I rather have my state decide where the money should go , that is what the Constitution protects . The view is people closer to home know to spend the money on paying for education or insurance policies that cover things that many believe should be left up to the individual to be responsible for . In fact part of the issue is responsibility , people want insurance to pay for their irreponsibility and offer no credit or reward to hose who are responsible .

    The legislature , Nancy pelosi and those in charge of writing this are the villians , not the four conservative guys in robes .

    Also drawing distinction between us and other countries have no bearing on the argument , at all . In fact I know a group of people who start with a O who believe this country is not really that good anyway , and believe the problems can be solved by taking away from others to give another . Many of those countries that use this method are finding now that their health care is failing because the government takes wealth , it does not produce it . Health care needs to paid for my all of us , and it can be done so by using some good ideas that were in this bill , and adding some others. Basically a good place to start would be Constitutionly basedlaws . If you concern is for us to have better health care opportunities , I would hope you would realize that the vast majority of Americans agree with you . Regardles what they thought of this Bill that was passed.

    Sorry very long .

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