The Affordable Care Act, the Obama Health Care legislation, hits its two year anniversary this week, and next week, the US Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of the legislation, seen as the landmark case of the past decade by many, and as the crucial issue that will have a dramatic effect either way on the upcoming Presidential Election of 2012.
The Obama Health Care law has allowed young people to remain on their parents’ health insurance to age 26; has prevented pre-existing conditions from being used to deny health care; and has cut down the “donut hole” for senior citizens in relation to their prescription costs.
Many other reforms must wait until 2014, assuming that the Supreme Court does not declare the whole act unconstitutional.
There is furious action to try to destroy the signature legislation that really defines the Obama Presidency, a law that took a full year to pass, and that was passed on party lines, which is actually not at all unusual in history.
Some federal judges have upheld the legislation, while others have challenged it, and it will be argued by both sides over three days for the unusually long total period of six hours, showing just how significant this case is!
As it seems now, the four “liberal” Justices–Bill Clinton appointees Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, and Barack Obama appointees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan—will support the legislation.
For it to survive in one piece, at least one of the five “conservative” Justices would have to join the four liberal appointees of Clinton and Obama.
Anthony Kennedy, usually the swing vote, and usually joining the liberals on about one third of the cases before the Court, is thought to be a good bet, but not a guarantee.
Chief Justice John Roberts, who is very aware of the significance of this case for the Court and for his reputation, is thought to join in the majority, but again no certainty.
Ironically, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, who one would think would be opposed, has indicated in other cases as hints that he just might support the legislation.
Associate Justice Samuel Alito is thought less likely to support the legislation, and Associate Justice Clarence Thomas is thought to be the one certain, guaranteed vote against the health care legislation.
The argument for the legislation is the application of the commerce clause of the Constitution, which has been utilized over and over again by the US Supreme Court in the past, adding to the powers of the federal government. This was the same controversy with the Social Security Act, with a conservative oriented Supreme Court in the 1930s, and that legislation was upheld.
The argument against is based on opposition to the so called “mandate” that all citizens MUST obtain health insurance coverage by 2014, or face a fine.
What the critics fail to address is that when someone does not have health insurance and ends up needing medical care, he or she ends up in the emergency room, and all of us have to pay for the health care provided. Is it proper that some have no health care coverage and gain medical aid, and the rest of us have to pay for our health care, and also for those who are irresponsible enough to avoid paying for care that he or she knows he or she can gain for free?
This is the crux of the matter, and it is hoped and believed that a majority of the Supreme Court will end up backing the Health Care law, with a prediction by many of at least 5-4, but even possibly 6-3, or 7-2, or even 8-1.
A victory by more than 5-4 would be a real endorsement of the health care legislation, while a 5-4 defeat would be a major blow to 50 million citizens who benefit from the legislation.
In either case, this decision, when it is announced in June, will have a transformative effect on our nation, and on the Presidential Election of 2012. We will all wait with “baited breath” for the result!