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Health reform faces Supreme test

By Jay MacDonald ·
Monday, March 26, 2012
Posted: 9 am ET

For three days this week, the Supreme Court will hear arguments for and against the landmark Affordable Care Act, which became law March 23, 2010. Their verdict, expected in late June, will have considerable impact on our economy, our politics and the future of health care in this country.

Six hours of arguments spread over three days may not seem like a lot, but by Supreme Court standards it's generous, befitting the importance of this decision. Not since the court heard challenges to Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal in 1935 have the justices deigned to weigh in on the signature legislation of a president while he seeks re-election.

The outcome will influence whether 32 million Americans will be covered by health insurance, whether an industry that makes up 18 percent of the U.S. economy will be overhauled, and who will win the November presidential election.

There are four issues before the court as a result of challenges brought by 26 states, the Nashville-based National Federation of Independent Business and four of its members.

1. Individual mandate. The court will decide if Congress has the right to require Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty. The challengers maintain it's unconstitutional. President Barack Obama's administration says the mandate is well within congressional power to regulate interstate commerce and impose taxes.

2. Severability. If the individual mandate is found unconstitutional, does that nullify the rest of the Affordable Care Act, or could the mandate simply be severed from health care reform?

3. Medicaid expansion. Challengers maintain that the ACA's expansion of Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor, unconstitutionally forces states to spend more on Medicaid.

4. Premature challenge. Under the 1867 Anti-Injunction Act, judges cannot rule on challenges to federal taxes until the taxes have actually been levied. In the case of the Affordable Care Act, the first penalties under the individual mandate would not be imposed until 2015.

While the justices rejected requests from lawmakers and the media to televise their health care reform hearings, the court will break from its customary weekly audio release and post audio on its website each afternoon during the three-day hearing.

While the Supreme Court is free to issue its rulings at any time, justices have been disposed to work on landmark cases right up to deadline, which in this case comes in late June.

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April 30, 2012 at 11:02 am

For the previous aneswr, Medicare isn't PRIVATE insurance here, it's the public system. So yes, it's very cheap (free)!All our health insurance companies are fairly good, and mostly give a fair price with good coverage our public system ensures we don't have a similar problem to the US with insurance companies competing for cut-throat profit. Personally, I'm with MBF, and it works for me. However, if I were you I'd just shop around until you find the best deal.It's not hard, because there are only a handful of funds. If you're young and healthy, look around for a fund that offers extras cover for a reasonable price, as you'll be unlikely to use the basic hospital cover much. If you're a bit older, it's worth reading the fine print so you don't get a policy that excludes important things, like cardiac problems for example.Good luck!

March 26, 2012 at 1:37 pm

When you say affordable do you realize the price tag just doubled? And it hasn't even taken effect yet!

What was supposed to reduce costs doesn't.What was supposed to be debated in front of us (Obama promise) was instead relegated to the 'back room' where deals were made with pharma and insurers.

Jay MacDonald
March 25, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Hi, Joe: If your annual income is below $20K, you'll likely be eligible for a health care subsidy. Under health care reform, if you intend to remain uninsured, the worst that's likely to happen is you'll be assessed a penalty on your federal income tax. No prison time or death panels. Good luck with your health care strategy.

Rhonda Stewart
March 25, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Hi Jay
Healthcare Reform Act fights against it will soon be a thing of the past. One day we will see that affordable healthcare is the best thing for this country because because it did two very important things save lives and create jobs.

Rhonda Stewart
March 25, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Hi Jay
I dont know you and I dont listen or watch your show, but I can tell from the comments that you are against making health care affordable and that is really sad. I just pray that one day people in the media who have a large following will think about people as a whole. Until then having healthcare for every one will be something that you and your buddies will never be able to see or understand. Thank GOD for Obama

March 25, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Hey Joe, you have been really lucky as the majority of Americans who do pay for medical insurance have paid high premiums all their life. I worked for one company for 39 years & although they provided medical insurance I still had to pay premiums & had deductibles. After being laid off in 2008 & paying high cobra insurance for 2 years I now am 60 years old & pay $500 a month with a $1888 a year deductible. That is the best I can get with these rip off private insurance companies. I am very healthy & rarely have to see a doctor. You & I are very lucky, with the affordable care act in 2014 we will have the chance to get great coverage at a low cost, the same coverage that Congress gets. You need to read up on the affordable care act & stop watching Fox news & learn the real answers.If you make $20,000 a year you will qualify for tax credits that will make your insurance coverage affordable. You'll be able to use these tax credits to shop for the best plan for you in your state's new Affordable Insurance Exchange. It could be as little as $20 a month, & don't tell me you cannot afford that. And yes, if you are stubborn & refuse to get insurance you could get fined, but nobody is going to throw you in jail. Get the real facts you idiot conservative guy! People like me have been paying our fair share for years, it is time for people like you to step up & pay your fair share!

Joe from hell
March 25, 2012 at 10:35 am

Hey Jay
I have never paid for health insurance in my life and I have paid all my doctor bills myself( yes I have been lucky ( but guess what IM 54 and I plan on never having a so called real job again also my yearly income is under 20,000 and will stay below it way below it so who is gonna pay my share since I dont have the money or are they going to throw me in jail??? I would like an answer liberal smart guy