Thursday, July 24, 2014         

 Print   Email   Comment | View 58 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

Supreme Court might rule quickly on Obama health law

By Mark Sherman

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 10:53 p.m. HST, Mar 26, 2012

WASHINGTON >> As demonstrations swirled outside, Supreme Court justices signaled on Monday they are ready to confront without delay the keep-or-kill questions at the heart of challenges to President Barack Obama's historic health care overhaul. Virtually every American will be affected by the outcome, due this summer in the heat of the election campaign.

On the first of three days of arguments — the longest in decades — none of the justices appeared to embrace the contention that it was too soon for a decision.

Outside the packed courtroom, marching and singing demonstrators on both sides — including doctors in white coats, a Republican presidential candidate and even a brass quartet — voiced their eagerness for the court to either uphold or throw out the largest expansion in the nation's social safety net since Medicare was enacted in 1965.

Tuesday's arguments will focus on the heart of the case, the provision that aims to extend medical insurance to 30 million more Americans by requiring everyone to carry insurance or pay a penalty.

A decision is expected by late June as Obama fights for re-election. All of his Republican challengers oppose the law and promise its repeal if the high court hasn't struck it down in the meantime.

On Monday, the justices took on the question of whether an obscure tax law could derail the case.

Audio of the day's argument can be found at: http://bit.ly/GSXEpf .

The 19th century law bars tax disputes from being heard in the courts before the taxes have been paid.

Under the new health care law, Americans who don't purchase health insurance would have to report that omission on their tax returns for 2014 and would pay a penalty along with federal income tax on returns due by April 2015. Among the issues facing the court is whether that penalty is a tax.

Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr., defending the health law, urged the court to focus on what he called "the issues of great moment" at the heart of the case. The 26 states and a small business group challenging the law also want the court to go ahead and decide on its constitutionality without delay.

But one lower court that heard the case, the federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., has said the challenge is premature. No justice seemed likely to buy that argument Monday.

The justices fired two dozen questions in less than a half hour at Washington attorney Robert Long, who was defending the appeals court ruling.

"What is the parade of horribles?" asked Justice Sonia Sotomayor, if the court were to decide the penalties were not a tax and the health care case went forward? Long suggested that could encourage more challenges to the long-standing system in which the general rule is that taxpayers must pay a disputed tax before they can go to court.

The questions came so quickly at times that the justices interrupted each other. At one point, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sotomayor started speaking at the same time. Chief Justice John Roberts, acting as traffic cop, signaled Ginsburg to go first, perhaps in a nod to her seniority. Only Justice Clarence Thomas, as is his custom, stayed out of the fray.

Verrilli also faced pointed questioning over the administration's differing explanations for whether the penalty is a tax.

"General Verrilli, today you are arguing that the penalty is not a tax. Tomorrow you are going to be back and you will be arguing that the penalty is a tax," Justice Samuel Alito said.

Verrilli said Monday's argument dealt with the meaning of the word in the context of the 19th century law, the Anti-Injunction Act. Tuesday's session will explore Congress' power to impose the insurance requirement and penalty. In that setting, he said, Congress has the authority under the Constitution "to lay and collect taxes," including the penalty for not having insurance.

Still, he had trouble keeping his terms straight. Answering a question from Kagan, Verrilli said, "If they pay the tax, then they are in compliance with the law."

Justice Stephen Breyer jumped in: "Why do you keep saying tax?" Breyer reminded Verrilli he should be saying penalty.

"Right. That's right," Verrilli said.

The administration officials involved with the defense and implementation of the health care law, Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, were in the courtroom Monday. Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi also were in the crowd that filled the courtroom's 400 seats.

Outside the court building, about 100 supporters of the law walked in a circle holding signs that read, "Protect my healthcare," and chanting, "Care for you, care for me, care for every family." A half-dozen opponents shouted, "We love the Constitution!"

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum was there, too, declaring anew that GOP front-runner Mitt Romney has no standing to challenge Obama on the law since Massachusetts passed a somewhat similar version when Romney was governor. Santorum said, "If you really want Obamacare repealed there's only one person who can make that happen."

A four-person student band from Howard University was part of the group favoring the law, playing New Orleans-style jazz tunes.

People hoping for a glimpse of the action had waited in line all weekend for the relatively few seats open to the public. The justices allotted the case six hours of argument time, the most since the mid-1960s.

The justices also will take up whether the rest of the law can remain in place if the insurance mandate falls and, separately, whether Congress lacked the power to expand the Medicaid program to cover 15 million low-income people who currently earn too much to qualify.

If upheld, the law will force dramatic changes in the way insurance companies do business, including forbidding them from denying coverage due to pre-existing medical conditions and limiting how much they can charge older people.

The law envisions that insurers will be able to accommodate older and sicker people without facing financial ruin because of its most disputed element, the requirement that Americans have insurance or pay a penalty.

By 2019, about 95 percent of the country will have health insurance if the law is allowed to take full effect, the Congressional Budget Office estimates.

Polls have consistently shown the public is at best ambivalent about the benefits of the health care law, and that a majority of Americans believe the insurance requirement is unconstitutional.


Associated Press writers Pete Yost, Jesse Holland and Jessica Gresko contributed to this report.

 Print   Email   Comment | View 58 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

You must be subscribed to participate in discussions
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may receive a warning, and if you persist with such comments you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.
suckseed wrote:
This law needs to be struck down in its entirety. It will bankrupt this country
on March 25,2012 | 08:38AM
Pacej001 wrote:
"Bankrupter"? Is that a word? Anyway, we're already bankrupt, in business terms, with more than $60 trillion in unfunded liabilities at the national level and similar shortfalls at the state level. So, technically speaking, Obamacare is just going to make us bankrupter.
on March 25,2012 | 09:23AM
OldDiver wrote:
Assuming the Supreme Court does not overturn the law, the Congressional Budget Office has estimated Obamacare would reduce the number of uninsured by 30 million in 2016, or 2 million fewer people than estimated last year. Total costs from 2012-2021 are about $50 billion lower than estimated last year. That's due to a combination of factors, including overall health care costs rising more slowly than in the recent past.
on March 26,2012 | 08:40AM
Toneyuki wrote:
According to the CBO, The law will cost an estimated 1.76 Trillion over the next 10 years. http://cbo.gov/publication/43076

That is because now it includes 8 years of lollipops instead of 6 (as it was first scored) just think of how much it will be when we get 10 years of lollipops!

on March 26,2012 | 05:52PM
Highinthesierras wrote:
Has anyone read the whole thing? Not Nancy, not Harry or Barry.
on March 26,2012 | 07:35PM
Toneyuki wrote:
Pace, it would be "more bankrupt" 2 or more syllables, the general rule is that you put more in front of the word.
on March 26,2012 | 05:49PM
CloudForest wrote:
This is one aspect of We The People vs They The Government, kinda like the hunger games where the politicians rule by fiat and dictate that we sacrifice for their bloated lifestyle. If they can hoist this mandate upon us - we are doomed, for the ratchet will only get tighter and tighter and tighter ... until we are all their "tributes" in the hunger games of the former great USA.
on March 25,2012 | 01:13PM
MANDA wrote:
Your government already forces you to buy car insurance. Why aren't you screaming about that?
on March 26,2012 | 07:24AM
onevoice82 wrote:
Because your actions on the road effect other people. Your health does not effect me!
on March 26,2012 | 08:28AM
HawaiiMongoose wrote:
Not so. Our health care system doesn't turn away people who lack health insurance and let them suffer or die without treatment. Most receive high-cost acute care from the provider of last resort (often the public hospital emergency room), and someone eventually has to pay the related expenses. That someone is a combination of individuals who do buy health insurance, who end up paying inflated premiums, and taxpayers. So whenever someone who can afford health insurance refuses to buy it, it does affect you.
on March 26,2012 | 08:46AM
OldDiver wrote:
Of course it does. If you need a heart transplant the hundreds of thousands it will cost will come from the pool of money we all pay to HMSA or which ever insurance company you deal with. That reduces the money in the pool which affects all of us. But that is how insurance is suppose to work.
on March 26,2012 | 08:50AM
tiki886 wrote:
Absolutely wrong! We are not forced to buy car insurance. You have a choice to own a car or not. And driving is a privilege not a right. Obamacare forces everyone to buy insurance even if you don't need it or want it. Individuals can self insure or pay cash.
on March 26,2012 | 08:42AM
OldDiver wrote:
Don't need health insurance?
on March 26,2012 | 09:03AM
tiki886 wrote:
I don't have to be forced to buy health insurance under penalty of law.
on March 26,2012 | 09:28AM
thatsashame_0723 wrote:
I'd also like to be able to choose from out of state insurance companies when selecting the one best for me and my family. The law, in its current form, does not allow for that.
on March 26,2012 | 02:14PM
NITRO08 wrote:
Do you have health insurance? If so what is your problem!
on March 26,2012 | 04:31PM
Loki wrote:
Nope. You're wrong. If you don't drive, you don't have to buy car insurance.
on March 26,2012 | 02:31PM
Toneyuki wrote:
State governments require those that drive to have car insurance. Apples and pineapples. Obamacare requires you to buy health insurance for those that are breathing.
on March 26,2012 | 05:53PM
bigbud808 wrote:
This is typical of poloticians. They don't care about the people once they achieved getting into office.l have COPD but have been denied medical for close to a year now because the insurance companies are stating that l am sick (pre-existing condition) so in order to cover me. l or the company l work for needs to pay a crazy sum per month. as if insurance companies and pharmeceutical companies aren't raping us as it is.l vote for Obamacare. Republicans are probably against it because They are against the president and party line appears to be more important than what's the right thing to do.or they are supporting the companies that are shafting the people of the USA. As for bankrupting the country...lol...what a laugh! The past poloticians have done that already. Where is all the social security money people have been putting in since their first jobs?and what about the ones that died and never collected from it... all that money and also all that is collected by that private company called the IRS. I recently found out that the money they collect doesn't go to the government If you really want to make affordable care for everyone, overhaul pharmeceutical and insurance companies. Why should my insurance company have to pay $1000 for (1) asthma spray and imagine a country of people that need more than 3 a month.Don't even try to imagine other medical costs...it'll only boggle your mind.
on March 25,2012 | 01:36PM
NITRO08 wrote:
You are right the people that don't like Obama care are idiots they they don't know what other people with health problems go thru.
on March 25,2012 | 04:44PM
meatgrinda wrote:
people who like Odumbo care are idiots.
on March 26,2012 | 07:48PM
onevoice82 wrote:
bigbud808, didn't I see you on the corner of Ward and Young St. holding cardboard signs? Yes, that was you, looking for handouts again.
on March 26,2012 | 05:44AM
OldDiver wrote:
If you get ill an need expensive medical procedures I'm betting you won't refuse it. You premiums will not cover all of the cost of your treatment, you will be relying on handouts from the rest of us who pay our premiums.
on March 26,2012 | 08:54AM
NITRO08 wrote:
No I earn 6 figures a year and pay for health insurance. What abot you? Also you can't get a safety check with out car insurance.
on March 26,2012 | 04:21PM
Toneyuki wrote:
If you don't own a car, you don't need a safety check or insurance. Plus those are state rules, not federal.
on March 26,2012 | 05:58PM
tiki886 wrote:
BigBud, the uninsurable like yourself need healthcare not health insurance. If we insure the uninsurable, that is not insurance, that is welfare. If we are to subsidize the healthcare of the uninsurable, let's not call it insurance. We can create a separate funding mechanism and call it what you will but not 'insurance'.
on March 26,2012 | 08:58AM
Toneyuki wrote:
Preexisting conditions is the one thing that can be compared to car insurance. Making them cover pre existing conditions is the same as saying a car insurance company must cover the damages from an accident that happened just before the person signed up for car insurance.

Furthermore, 1 year is bogus. By law, pre existing condition is only considered preexisting for 6 months. Insurance must cover all other health issues once you have a policy. The medicine or doctor visits for a pre existing condition are not covered for 6 months, after that they are no longer considered pre existing. The insurance company must cover them.

on March 26,2012 | 06:02PM
Toneyuki wrote:
Sorry the one year isn't bogus, I had to go back and look it up. After one year they will cover the costs of it. By Law. http://www.bad-faith-insurance-claims.com/pre-existing-conditions-law/
on March 26,2012 | 06:07PM
meatgrinda wrote:
the majority of the american people don't support this monstrosity.
on March 26,2012 | 07:50PM
Changalang wrote:
I have never seen physician and lawyer D.C. lobbies on the same side pushing any agenda this hard. The individual mandate will probably be struck down. President Obama lucks out both in all ways. Striking down part of the law places implementation delays easily pivoted onto the opposition. AI full smack down will greatly enhance the Obama turnout for his base, because Presidential elections are always about turnout secondary to Electoral College. If SCOTUS leaves it intact, Obama goes into November with his signature legislation intact and approved by the Court. It is not content, but about how the message is delivered. The Main Stream Media stands with Hawaii's favorite son. :)
on March 25,2012 | 09:24PM
peanutgallery wrote:
Hopefully, the highest court in the land will do the right thing, and stike down this nonsense.
on March 26,2012 | 03:42AM
kainalu wrote:
So many people uninformed. If not straight-up lies, at least misinformation is being disseminated in this thread. At the very least, make your argument on facts, not something you picked up from FOX News. The law has little to no impact on those already insured, and small business, 90% that are in compliance before the law was contrived. If you're rich, or a practice that overcharges for your services, then you might have a problem.
on March 26,2012 | 07:37AM
onevoice82 wrote:
So you think it is ok to pick on the rich?
on March 26,2012 | 08:26AM
OldDiver wrote:
Pick on the rich billionaires? How is that possible?
on March 26,2012 | 08:36AM
LanaUlulani wrote:
ObamaCare actually increases healthcare prices and costs. So far my health insurance premium already went up again. It will get MUCH worse.
on March 26,2012 | 09:38AM
Changalang wrote:
It comes down to whether the Commerce Clause has been abused by the Individual Mandate requirement per constructionist perspective of the Constitution, because this is 26 States vs. the Federal Law and has jumped through every judicial wrung of the ladder to be decided by SCOTUS. Those are the facts.
on March 26,2012 | 12:51PM
ricekidd wrote:
It seems alot of people who live in this Beautiful land called U.S.A. don't understand that, IN THIS Country You take care of yourself and do not depend on the GOV. Just because You did not take care of yourself don't expect others pay for your lazy Butts. Eating and drink anything and everything not thinking of what goes into your body. "Nobody seems to notice...Nobody seems to care..."
on March 26,2012 | 08:23AM
OldDiver wrote:
Nonsense. We don't take care of ourselves. We need the collective or government to provide certain things for us to survive. Meat inspections so we don't die from eating bad meat, water quality control, police and fire departments, lifeguards, FDA to protect us from unsafe drugs and food etc. We need government to build our roads and highways, air traffic controllers so we are safe in the air. As individuals we have a responsibility to be productive and contribute to society, but don't think for one minute you alone are taking care of yourself.
on March 26,2012 | 09:01AM
Toneyuki wrote:
How did people survive before we had Federal meat inspectors? People didn't swim in the Ocean before life guards? Some things are necessary at the federal level, that is why we have a constitution, and a nation. But most things shouldn't ever be touched by the federal government. Such as health insurance, water, police, firefighters, teachers, and a huge list of things that they mess with. The federal government can only do a few things well, military being one of them. (even that is kind of iffy)
on March 26,2012 | 06:17PM
tiki886 wrote:
And if you wanted to reduce the annual traffic deaths of about 40,000 per year down to several hundred per year, the government can create a law mandating that every automobile be built like an Indy race car where you could run into a concrete wall at 200 mph and still walk away unscathed. Of course that car would cost $1.5 million. You can force everyone in America to buy health insurance but it will cost 2 to 3 times or more than we are paying right now. And some of us are beginning to feel the pain of Obamacare.
on March 26,2012 | 07:14PM
LanaUlulani wrote:
Unfortunately some local people WANT the U.S. government to take control of their lives because some feel as though they have no control. My motto is... everything the U.S. government touches it destroys. With ObamaCare the U.S. government controls healthcare thus control our body. For women especially why would ANY woman want the U.S. government to control their body?!!! Mind boggling. I hope ObamaCare is repealed in its entirety.
on March 26,2012 | 09:40AM
OldDiver wrote:
And you CONservatives are the first to holler "what's the government doing about this" when something goes wrong.
on March 26,2012 | 11:07AM
Toneyuki wrote:
Example please.
on March 26,2012 | 06:17PM
tiki886 wrote:
Obamacare is just another giant government ponzi scheme. Social Security is bankrupt, Medicare and Medicaid is bankrupt, the Postal Service is bankrupt. Solyndra and over a dozen solar energy companies receiving Obama's favors are bankrupt. Everything government does goes bankrupt. Now, tell me again why should we trust Obama and big government again?
on March 26,2012 | 09:20AM
tiki886 wrote:
When Nancy Pelosi said, "We have to pass the Bill in order to know what's in it.", do you think any Democrat has read the 2,700 page Bill yet?
on March 26,2012 | 09:23AM
OldDiver wrote:
tiki886.......Obamacare is nothing close to an ponzi scheme. Do some reading please.
on March 26,2012 | 11:08AM
tiki886 wrote:
Yep, I looked it up. It's not only a ponzi scheme, it's a pyramid scheme.
on March 26,2012 | 08:07PM
LanaUlulani wrote:

So far this is great news. Florida is leading the pack with 25 other states against the U.S. government which wants to control our healthcare thus control our body through ObamaCare. Worse... ObamaCare destroys lāʻau which is plant-based and changes our paradigm of lāʻau to American medicine which is DRUG based.

ObamaCare is also a new tax. I hope the U.S. Supreme Court REPEALS it.

The U.S. government is forcing us to opt in. I want to opt OUT. Where are other pro-choice people????? Nearly SILENT.

on March 26,2012 | 09:37AM
entrkn wrote:
The Supreme Court dirtied itself when it threw the 2000 Presidential election and the aftermath made that history even worse. Now they are "looking into" ObamaCare which both houses of Congress and the President signed into law, and if they tamper with this in any way they may be impeachable.
on March 26,2012 | 11:20AM
Toneyuki wrote:
on March 26,2012 | 06:19PM
bigbud808 wrote:
one voice if you read then you would see that l do work a full time job but am turned down for medical coverage because the ins.companies say i have a pre existing condition. in other words i was born w/asthma and it cost too much now that l have COPD to cover me...so .i am happy that you are not affected by a medical malady but you may one day!
on March 26,2012 | 11:39AM
Changalang wrote:
Unfortunately, the law of Natural Selection is not reversible by any Court of mankind. " law of natural selection states that organisms more suited to their environment will have a higher success rate, and are more likely to reproduce. Therefore their genetics are more likely to continue into the future." Move forward, crawl forward; or stay still and perish. Sad, but true.
on March 26,2012 | 01:03PM
Toneyuki wrote:
When you sign up for insurance and have a pre existing condition, you must pay the whole cost for one year. After that your insurance company must cover it.

Do you have a full time job in Hawaii? Under state law, your employer must provide you with health insurance and the cost to you cannot exceed 1.5% of your salary.

on March 26,2012 | 06:28PM
Invested wrote:
Coercing people into making economic decisions that may be financially disadvantageous—in this case purchasing a government approved health insurance plan regardless of personal want or need—forsakes the values that our Founders established as inalienable. It is nothing short of a repudiation of the Constitution.
on March 26,2012 | 02:38PM
tiki886 wrote:
Insuring the uninsurable or those with preexisting conditions cannot exist in the private sector because they would go bankrupt like Obama's Solyndra. Insuring the uninsurable is like someone applying for auto insurance after the accident. It's like applying for life insurance after the person has died. Can you imagine if a physician tells one of his patients, "You only have two weeks to live so you better go out and by life insurance?" What id iiot would sell you that insurance? Oh, right, Obama will sell you that policy and make the American taxpayer pay for that life insurance policy so that your heirs can collect millions of dollars in two weeks after you're dead. Liberalism is a mental disorder.
on March 26,2012 | 07:37PM
tiki886 wrote:
Insuring the uninsurable or those with preexisting conditions cannot exist in the private sector because they would go bankrupt like Obama's Solyndra. Insuring the uninsurable is like someone applying for auto insurance after the accident. It's like applying for life insurance after the person has died. Can you imagine if a physician tells one of his patients, "You only have two weeks to live so you better go out and by life insurance?" What maroon would sell you that insurance? Oh, right, Obama will sell you that policy and make the American taxpayer pay for that life insurance policy so that your heirs can collect millions of dollars in two weeks after you're dead. Liberalism is a mental disorder.
on March 26,2012 | 07:38PM
tiki886 wrote:
Instead of forcing me to buy health insurance, I would rather be forced to buy firearms and ammo. That would perfect the 2nd Amendment. Oh, and throw in concealed carry while we're at it.
on March 26,2012 | 08:11PM
tiki886 wrote:
Instead of forcing me to buy health insurance, I would rather be forced to buy firearms and ammo. That would perfect the 2nd Amendment. Oh, and throw in concealed carry while we're at it.
on March 26,2012 | 08:12PM
Breaking News