Health Care and US

First comes the news—The U.S. Supreme Court will decide–four months before 2012 presidential elections-whether President Obama’s health care reform measures are constitutional in whole or in part.

Next comes the frank question: Will the Supreme Court make a decision based on the merits, or will this politically divided legal entity go with the flow of its Republican-influenced majority?

The New York Times had some interesting points to make on the subject after reporting the fact. The health care bill has brought sweeping changes to the United States already that will be difficult to roll back.

The Times reports:

“No matter what the Supreme Court decides about the constitutionality of the federal law adopted last year, health care in America has changed in ways that will not be easily undone. Provisions already put in place, like tougher oversight of health insurers, the expansion of coverage to one million young adults and more protections for workers with pre-existing conditions are already well cemented and popular.
And a combination of the law and economic pressures has forced major institutions to wrestle with the relentless rise in health care costs.”

The first question at hand for the Supreme Court is to consider the fact that the bill forces people to buy health insurance. It does so in many ways as a compromise replacement for what should be in place—universal health care. But in the twisted, vested-interest, insurance-industry controlled, Republican Congress, we’re stuck with the bill we’ve got. And the same uninformed Americans who “think” that President Obama is an alien and that man never landed on the moon also buy the notion that universal health care is akin to godless communism.

That would be fine if we were talking about a loony fringe – but we’re talking about a crowd that comprises most of the Republican Party.

Another question: if one part of the bill is struck down, should the entire bill be declared unconstitutional?

Back then to the Supreme Court. What faith do we have in a humanistic outcome? Who knows. This is not quite the Rehnquist Court of November 2000 that engineered the closest thing to a coup that the United States has ever seen—throwing the presidential election to George W. Bush.

But this is a court with four stalwart Republican votes, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito, and four liberal Democrats: Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer. The odd man out as always is the middle-range Anthony Kennedy, who will likely decide whether health care stands and how the result plays out in the presidential election.

In a beautiful world, the choice should be on the merits. The New York Times in an editorial maps out the reality of the choices.

“This can be a highly politicized court, and, for the public good and its own credibility, it must resist that impulse. If the court follows its own precedents, as it should, this case should not be a close call: The reform law and a provision requiring most people to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty are clearly constitutional.”

Problem is that the similarly configured Renquist court did lose credibility. How will it rule this time?

Good luck to us all.

2 Comments

Filed under 1, Elections, Obama, Politics

2 responses to “Health Care and US

  1. William Dorman

    As succinct and ingelligent a summary of the prospects before us as one could wish. It always helps to have a straightforward guide to understanding the intersection of politics and justice where this Court in particular is concerned. Well done, Eisner.

  2. The conservative objection to the “individual mandate” illustrates the primacy of money over life itself in the conservative mind. Surely the military draft must have been tested in the Supreme Court, but the draft endured, and men had to give up years of their lives — if not life itself — at the behest of the government. But a law requiring the annual payment of a few hundred dollars for health insurance — that is INTOLERABLE, an infringement of individual freedom, it’s the government stealing peoples’ money.

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