KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Walter Dellinger’s Health Care Myths; A ‘Moment Of Truth’ Or End Of Health Reform?

Commentators from around the country offer their views of the historic case being heard at the Supreme Court today.

Politico: Killing The Mandate Won't Fix Health Care
From both a legal and practical perspective, the choice is clear. Congress was well within its authority in passing the individual mandate to regulate the interstate effects of an industry that is almost 20 percent of our nation’s economy — more than $2.5 trillion each year. ... it's virtually impossible to have anything close to universal coverage without a mandate (for individuals to get insurance). Insurance works when the cost of health care is spread among everyone — young, old, healthy and infirm. (Tom Daschle, 3/25).

Politico Pro: Healthy Reminder Of SCOTUS's Role
For Americans who seek, as we do, to preserve individual liberty and local control against an increasingly intrusive federal government, this is one of the most important cases the Supreme Court has heard in decades. ... There is no question that the unprecedented health care mandate raises serious constitutional questions about the scope of the federal government’s power (Greg Abbott, 3/25).

The New York Times: Could This Be The End Of Health Care Reform?
If the Supreme Court rules that the individual mandate is unconstitutional — in my opinion, an improbable and legally indefensible decision — it will not end health care reform. Hospitals and doctors will continue to work to improve care and control costs. But tens of millions of Americans will continue to be excluded from the health care system, which is hardly an optimal outcome (Ezekiel J. Emanuel, 3/23).

The Washington Post: Obamacare's Contract Problem
Hitherto, most attention has been given to whether Congress, under its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce, may coerce individuals into engaging in commerce by buying health insurance. Now the Institute for Justice (IJ), a libertarian public interest law firm, has focused on this fact: The individual mandate is incompatible with centuries of contract law. This is so because a compulsory contract is an oxymoron (George Will, 3/23).

The Washington Post: The Washington Post: Five Myths About The Health-Care Law 
The main issue, on which the lower courts have split, is whether Congress had the power to pass this law under the Constitution's commerce clause. The answers to that and other questions are clouded by misperceptions about the law itself. Let's debunk them (Walter Dellinger, 3/23). 

The New York Times: A Moment Of Truth For Health Care Reform
The justices, like the rest of the country, are clearly aware of the politics of the moment. But a decision on the merits will endure long after this election season — it could alter the allocation of power within American government and Congress's authority to solve national problems. ... Here is a look at the issues to be argued over three days this week in this extraordinary case (Lincoln Caplan and Philip M. Boffey, 3/24).

The New York Times' Room For Debate: Is The Court Being Thoughtful Or Partisan?
Are the justices giving due consideration to a complicated legal dispute, or preparing to engage in "judicial activism" to reduce federal power? Read the discussion (3/25).

The Washington Post: Obama's Ego Trip
[T]he justices will probably share at least one assumption: that their decision will have a big effect on the health of Americans. Ideally, everyone ought to have insurance, and it's popular wisdom that this would significantly improve people's health. But it's not true. The ACA's fate will dramatically affect government and the health-care system; the impact on Americans' health will be far more modest (Robert J. Samuelson, 3/25).

USA Today: Health Care Law Too Ill For Court To Fix
Three days of oral arguments that begin Monday will be the longest in recent Supreme Court history, and the ruling will have wide ranging consequences on the future of the health care reform law. But the court's decision will not fix a system that is badly broken and in need of radical reconstructive surgery. Even calling the way services are provided a "system" is misleading, especially if you consider a few startling facts (David M. Walker, 3/25). 

CNN: Despite Flaws, Health Care Law Is Needed
I practice primary care in southern New Hampshire near the Massachusetts border, which gives me a firsthand look at how health reform has impacted my neighboring state. ... I believe that health care reform needs to move forward. Over the years, I have encountered too many cases of patients who are inadequately served by our current health care model (Dr. Kevin Pho, 3/25).

Arizona Republic: 2 Years In, Reforms In Health Care Working
State lawmakers have compromised and risked the health of thousands of Arizonans, killed jobs and made economic recovery more difficult through massive cuts to state Medicaid (AHCCCS) and KidsCare health coverage for children. But this month, we can celebrate steps forward in health care ... Health-care reform -- despite hysterics and dire warnings from critics -- is quietly beginning to work as advertised. In Arizona, where fewer people get health coverage through their job, that's worth celebrating (Dana Wolfe Naimark, 3/25).

Bloomberg: Supreme Court Should Heed Economic Sense On Health Care
An obscure law, the Tax Injunction Act, says that tax cases cannot be litigated until someone has actually been penalized by the government. ... If (Justice Anthony) Kennedy wants to avoid striking down the law, but is unprepared to uphold it, he might well follow this line of thinking. Other justices, to his left and to his right, might well join him. That might not be a perfect result -- but it would still be a win for common sense (Noah Feldman, 3/25).

Houston Chronicle: Setting The Record Straight On Faith And Health Care Reform
No child of God should want for health care because he can't afford it. That's why more than 60 national, state and local religious organizations, including Texas Impact, have filed a friend of the court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Medicaid expansions in the Affordable Care Act (Bee Moorhead, 3/23).

Reuters: Top U.S. Judges May Drown Out Healthcare Debate
If past patterns hold, the justices will spend more time testing each other than listening to the lawyers for each side. ... Recent University of Minnesota research found that the current justices, excluding the laconic Clarence Thomas, altogether talk more per case than any of their modern predecessors (Reynolds Holding, 3/23).

The Miami-Herald: Court Should Strike Down Affordable Care Act 
Striking down the law will be the first step toward achieving real reform, and NFIB and its members are ready to engage with Congress to develop a responsible and responsive healthcare solution — a solution that gives employers and their families access to quality, affordable healthcare and doesn’t violate the U.S. Constitution (Bill Herrle, 3/26).

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