What Will the Supreme Court Do with Healthcare Reform?
It’s been a month since the Supreme Court heard arguments on President Obama’s healthcare overhaul, and it could be another two months until the court decides the law’s fate. But there is no shortage of pundits’ predictions about outcomes, and what the effects those outcomes could have.
Without predicting what the outcome might be, “Six potential outcomes for health reform” by Mark Sherman and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar in Benefitspro.com laid out six “what if” scenarios, from the Supreme Court upholding the law as is, to striking down the entire law, to striking down various portions of the law, such as the individual mandate. With each possible outcome, the post authors explain how that decision affects healthcare reform. For example, if the individual mandate is stricken:
“Knocking out the requirement that Americans carry insurance would not be the end of Obama’s health care overhaul. There’s a lot more in the 900-plus pages of the law.
But it would make the complicated legislation a lot harder to carry out, risking more complications for a U.S. health care system already seen as wasteful, unaffordable and unable to deliver consistently high quality.”
Two articles in The Huffington Post, the first predicting the Supreme Court to uphold healthcare reform and the second very pessimistic about the individual mandate, were separated by only a day – but what a day it was. That day was the first day of oral arguments before the court on March 26.
In that article, “Supreme Court Health Care Law: Justices Come Down Hard on the Mandate,” Mike Sacks reported that “things did not go well for the government’s argument” for the individual mandate. The U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli endured a barrage of questions from the justices – particularly the conservative ones – that seemed to indicate that they were concerned that if they upheld the mandate, “Congress would then be loosed to regulate nearly anything else it deemed a national problem.”
HealthDay writer Lisa Esposito interviewed a number of lawyers and legal experts for her article, “Legal Experts Offer Predictions on Fate of Health Reform Legislation.” The experts were divided on their predictions, and all said it’s impossible to say for sure based on the justices’ reaction to oral arguments alone.
Blake Thorne, author of “Two predictions on how the Supreme Court will rule on Obama’s health care reform,” quoted predictions by writer Jonathan Cohn, the author of “Sick: The Untold Story of America’s Health Care Crises – and the People Who Pay the Price.” Cohn said there was a 40 percent chance that the court would uphold the law completely, a 25 percent chance that the court would uphold the law and insurance regulations but strike down the individual mandate, a 25 percent chance that the court would throw out the mandate and the regulations but keeps other facets of the law.
He gives only a 10 percent chance that the court will completely throw out the whole law, saying dismissing the entire law would be an “extreme and unlikely example of judicial activism.”
There seem to be as many opinions as there are experts, but – bottom line – the only opinions that matter are the nine justices who comprise the Supreme Court, and their opinions will come by the end of June. At this point, all anyone can do is wait.
- The Psychology of the ObamaCare Debate (thehealthcareblog.com)
- A 40,000 Foot View of Obamacare (psychologytoday.com)
- Will ObamaCare Survive Supreme Court Scrutiny? (robinelizabethherr.wordpress.com)
- Supreme Court Tackles Individual Mandate (247wallst.com)
- Individual Mandate: OK With Founding Fathers (newser.com)