Healthcare reform continues to make headlines, as new mandates make their way to the Supreme Court. Although the Affordable Care Act became law on March 23rd of 2010, it is still waiting to be reviewed by the Supreme Court. On Wednesday, the Obama administration said that the review is slated to happen either late this year or early in 2012, just in time to influence voters in the next presidential election.
The Justice Department has announced that it is petitioning the Supreme Court to overturn a ruling in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the requirement for American adults to obtain health insurance starting in 2014 is unconstitutional. Various appeals panels have issued contradictory rulings on the mandate, while two threw out lawsuits brought by the attorney general of Virginia and a group of New Jersey doctors on procedural grounds.
The most controversial mandate has the 11th Circuit and the public alike concerned: “If the federal government has the power to require the public to buy coverage from private insurers, where does its power over the citizenry end?” asked Jon Healey for the LA Times. Luckily for “Obamacare” supporters, there are several answers to this question; however, “The bad news is that none of them is likely to make the law more palatable to the public.”
Since everyone is an existing consumer of healthcare and the Supreme Court recognizes it as a form of interstate commerce that Congress can regulate, it is clear that critics of the measure are taking it out of context. “The individual mandate simply regulates how people pay for what they buy.” Essentially, this means that people who get sick must cover their costs, instead of forcing someone else to pay the tab.
In addition, the mandate requires insurers to offer coverage to everyone, regardless of any pre-existing conditions. “If you can't bar insurers from discriminating against those with preexisting conditions, millions of Americans won't be able to buy coverage.” If citizens are not required to carry insurance, most will wait until they get sick to secure coverage, “triggering a vicious cycle of cost increases.”
The final answer lies with the perceived power of the federal government. Historically, lawmakers have made conservative decisions regarding healthcare due to fear of voter backlash. The problem can be boiled down to the divisive subject of how big the government should be, and how much power it should be permitted to exercise – “That's why the administration needs to come up with not just a good legal answer to the question about the limits of government power, but also an answer that makes sense on Main Street.”
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