KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Perspectives On Court’s Political Fallout: A Loss Could Boost Obama; Mandate Could Be Replaced With Large Tax Credits

The Wall Street Journal: ObamaCare And The 2012 Election
The heart of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the requirement that every American purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. Justice Anthony Kennedy—widely considered the "swing vote" on cases that divide the Supreme Court evenly along ideological lines—raised concerns on Tuesday that this individual mandate "changes the relationship of the federal government to the individual in the very fundamental way." This might mean the president's signature domestic achievement will be declared unconstitutional. If so, he would face a critical decision (Karl Rove, 3/28).

The Washington Post: Obamacare And The Character Question
Whatever the Supreme Court decides in June, the fight over Obamacare has already taught us tons about the character of the president and the men who seek to replace him. Call it the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. We’ll take them in turn (Matt Miller, 3/28).

The Hill: Appeal Helps Obama
Irony alert — President Obama gets a boost no matter what the Supreme Court decides on his politically toxic healthcare reform law. The high court either upholds Obama’s signature domestic accomplishment, imprinting it for history, or it overturns the law, thereby breaking a big stick with which the GOP planned to beat Obama this fall. Should front-runner Mitt Romney become the GOP nominee, what’s left of the stick would more likely resemble a Q-Tip (A.B. Stoddard, 3/28).

The Hill: Health Care Reform Is No Poison Pill
As the Supreme Court puts healthcare reform in the dock, I've seen at least a dozen commentators offer up some version of political apocalypse, calling the law "radioactive," "poisonous" and "deadly." After all, a recent paper by five political scientists argues that by making members in conservative districts seem ideologically out of touch, the healthcare reform vote cost Democrats 25 House seats last cycle. Listening to the commentariat, you'd think it was a 20-80 issue, or maybe 30-70; that voters strongly and overwhelmingly oppose the law. In fact, they don’t (Mark S. Mellman, 3/28).

Bloomberg: Individual Mandate Is Ryan Tax Credit By Other Name
Interestingly, (Rep. Paul) Ryan’s (GOP budget) plan imposes, if anything, a harsher penalty on those who don't purchase health insurance (than the health law does). Ryan’s tax credit is far larger than the individual mandate's penalty, and much easier to enforce.…If the mandate falls, future politicians, who will still need to fix the health-care system and address the free-rider problem, will be left with the option to move toward a single payer system or offer incredibly large, expensive tax credits in order to persuade people to do things they don't otherwise want to do. That is to say, in the name of liberty, Republicans and their allies on the Supreme Court will have guaranteed a future with much more government intrusion in the health-care marketplace (Ezra Klein, 3/28).

The Arizona Republic: How 'Obamacare' Could Be Reformed
The problem with Obamacare is that it tries to do much more than solve the two main issues in the American health-care system: access for the poor that's affordable to taxpayers and security against going broke because of getting sick for everyone else. The problem with Republican alternatives is that they come up short of adequately addressing those two issues. Obamacare could be fixed and become affordable, if either political party ever develops an interest in doing it (Robert Robb, 3/28).

The Detroit Free Press: Romney, Then Obama, Got It Right On Health Care
The truth is those without health insurance in this country live sicker, suffer more and die earlier. And when we finally do treat them, we do it in a way that's so expensive it drives up the costs to American businesses, hurting their competitiveness globally and harming our country's economy. America's likely 2012 presidential nominees both got it right. And while they don't want to talk about it in this poisonous political atmosphere, they both know they got it right. Hopefully the U.S. Supreme Court won't undo what truly is their historic accomplishment (Mike Duggan, 3/29). 

CNN Money/ Fortune: Angry At Health Care Arguments? Get Even.
The point is that every time I hear liberals wearily complaining that they see no difference between the major party candidates, I want to wring their necks. And when I hear it in the future, I'll ask them to listen to Tuesday's oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, a/k/a Obamacare. The federal judiciary matters, and the Supreme Court matters most of all. To affect the composition of the federal judiciary you need to win Presidential elections. Republicans have understood these simple truths since at least the Ronald Reagan administration. Democrats -- incomprehensibly -- have not (Roger Parloff, 3/28).

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