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Healthcare Law Appealed To Supreme Court 1019

Posted by samzenpus
from the just-a-matter-of-time dept.
26 states and a small business group have filed separate appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to strike down Obama's 2010 healthcare law. In August, an appeals court in Atlanta ruled that the individual insurance requirement was unconstitutional, making it almost certain that the bill would go to the Supreme Court. From the article: "The Obama administration earlier this week said it decided against asking the full U.S. Appeals Court for the 11th Circuit to review the August ruling by a three-judge panel of the court that found the insurance requirement unconstitutional. That decision cleared the way for the administration to go to the Supreme Court. The administration has said it believes the law will be upheld in court while opponents say it represents an unconstitutional encroachment of federal power."
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Healthcare Law Appealed To Supreme Court

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  • by tripleevenfall (1990004) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @01:47PM (#37542412)

    What other products will they eventually mandate that we buy from corporations, purely by virtue of existing?

    • by Ferzerp (83619)

      Well, the RIAA and MPAA have infiltrated the government pretty well, and it seems to fit with their ideals....

    • by FunkSoulBrother (140893) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @01:50PM (#37542464)

      Clothes. Try walking around town naked and homeless.

      • by swamp boy (151038)

        Not really. The government doesn't mandate that you buy clothes -- just that you wear them. Probably not a meaningful difference for most people, but it may be for the Amish.

        • by Toonol (1057698)
          The state does, not the federal government. Obamacare might have been constitutional if adapted and managed by the states, on a state-by-state basis. States (are supposed to) have much more power than the federal government in managing their own commerce.
          • by hedwards (940851) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @03:21PM (#37544170)

            It's constitutional. I'm not sure where you got the idea that the health care overhaul legislation isn't constitutional. The Federal government has the right to regulate commerce. And, the reason why the costs have been spiraling out of control is that nobody truly opts out of health insurance. Eventually they do get sick at which point the doctors and hospitals turn the costs over to taxpayers or insurance companies.

            At this point only a very small section of the law is even in question and it's unlikely that Kennedy is going to side with the folks claiming that it's unconstitutional.

            Absolute worst case scenario is that it's thrown out in court and replaced with either Medicare for everybody or single payer, both of which are way beyond any challenge. The GOP just doesn't seem to understand that it's challenging the compromise that it was given and most of the other options are less palatable to them.

            Beyond that, if this really is that obviously unconstitutional they shouldn't have been pushing for it in the past.

      • by tylersoze (789256)

        Well that's a dumb analogy, given the fact the person would be given eventually clothes at some point. As far as beging homeless, they would be given some shelter if they were arrested obviously.

        You know, living in a society there are a few things you can actually get free (gasp socialism! everything should be paid for obviously) in a modern society complete glutted with products. I'm really sicked by people that make those arguments that the poor don't have it so bad since they have a TV. Oh it's so hard t

    • by Gr33nJ3ll0 (1367543) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @01:52PM (#37542492)
      Seatbelts, and motorcycle helmets are a couple of good examples.
      • by Shotgun (30919)

        And both have been railed against for the exact same reason as this law. And you don't have to buy or use either. You only have to use them when on public roads (there are a LOT of farm vehicles that don't carry license plates or liability insurance).

      • by swamp boy (151038)

        I wouldn't call those good examples. Seatbelts come with all modern vehicles and not everyone even owns a car. Although motorcycle helmets must be worn in many states for street riders, not everyone owns or rides street motorcycles. Your examples are similar, but not a "good example".

      • Seatbelts and helmets are not mandatory because cars and motorcycles are not mandatory. Healthcare is first case of being forced to buy a product just for being alive.
        • by RingDev (879105) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @02:11PM (#37542860) Homepage Journal

          On the other hand, we are forced to pay for Healthcare of others. It's already a socialized system. No one will be turned away from an emergency room. And our payments are bloated to cover the loss from uninsured patients and set-cost payments (medicare).

          So if I'm already forced to subsidize everyone else, why shouldn't they be forced to either subsidize along with me (the socially responsible choice) or to pay a penalty, to atleast put some skin in the game.

          It is unfortunate that we don't have much for non-profit or a government option. Because I'm getting pretty sick of paying 20 cents on the dollar to pay Cigna's CEO's pay check while getting raked for $20k+ a year in health care expenses.

          -Rick

          • No one will be turned away from an emergency room.

            And that's the big problem. Only EMERGENCIES should be treated at an emergency room. If we would start turning away people that show up for non-emergencies, we wouldn't have so many ERs going under.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Jawnn (445279)
            Mod parent up all the way. He gets it. We (the vast majority in any poll you'd care to cite) believe that health care is a something that should be available to all who need it. That's why, by law, hospital's can not turn away patient's in need of immediate care. The problem then, is that you have to be sick enough or injured badly enough to meet that immediate need test. If not, go away. We don't give away free care when it is likely to be the most cost effective (preventative and/or routine care). We only
          • by fyngyrz (762201) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @02:43PM (#37543476) Homepage Journal

            No one will be turned away from an emergency room.

            ER's don't provide reasonable care for anything that can't be fixed immediately. They'll put your arm in a cast or stitch up a cut, but you're not going to get anything even CLOSE to adequate cancer treatment, diabetes amelioration, allergies, and so on.

            It is simply disingenuous to hold up the ER as evidence that anyone can get reasonable medical care.

          • by fnj (64210)

            You're not being realistic. You must realize that there will be plenty of people without the means to be reasonably expected to pay for their health insurance. Not the way things are now, and not magically the way things are going to be, either. You can't humanely or effectively charge somebody a penalty if they do not have the means to pay the penalty.

            In the present system, the insured pay for the uninsured by being overcharged in order to pay for subsidizing the emergency room. In the pending system,

          • by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @03:57PM (#37544784) Journal

            No one will be turned away from an emergency room.

            I beg to differ. Some years ago, one of my cousins was turned away from ER. He was uninsured of course, or he probably would have seen a doctor a lot sooner. He was suffering from terrible headaches, couldn't even sit down because that made the pounding worse. He died the next day, presumably from an aneurysm in his head. He was about 45 years old. ER might not have been able to save him, who knows? But it should never have escalated to that point. Could he have been saved if he'd had access to basic health care months before his problem reached the crisis point, when he himself probably didn't think it was anything serious?

            Everyone seems aware of the problems with health insurance. But hardly anyone bashes the medical providers for their crazy billing practices. It's insane, and downright fraudulent the way doctors run the business. You see very few prices up front. They claim they can't give you any price until they know more. Maybe, but there are plenty of known prices they keep from you until well after the fact. If you ask about the price, they'll tell you not to worry (bad for your health, maybe?) insurance will cover it. Then they sometimes demand that you sign a blank check. They push you to sign a form that says you'll pay for something if insurance doesn't. And they won't tell you the price even when it's for something easy. They pulled that one on us for a wheelchair, and not a motorized one either, that turned out to be just over $800. Another stunt they pulled on us was having us keep a medical device for an extra week, unused, without informing us that it cost $1100 per week to rent!

        • by rcw-home (122017)

          Healthcare is first case of being forced to buy a product just for being alive.

          Except that's not true. You're forced to pay income tax if you make income, which Congress was given carte blanche to do via the 16th amendment. You pay *less* income tax if you buy health insurance. But if you didn't make enough to get taxed that much, then you're not paying for this anyway (you are, however, still getting it).

    • by tysonedwards (969693) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @01:52PM (#37542494)
      The distinction here is that health care is pretty vital to "promote the general Welfare" (US Constition - Preamble)
      welfare |welfe()r| (noun)
      the health, happiness, and fortunes of a person or group

      To that end, it seems pretty obvious that the founders of the United States cared enough about the health of it's citizens.

      We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
      • by Rockoon (1252108) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @01:55PM (#37542544)

        The distinction here is that health care ,,,

        We are talking about health insurance, not health care.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ArcherB (796902)

        The distinction here is that health care is pretty vital to "promote the general Welfare" (US Constition - Preamble)

        welfare |welfe()r| (noun)

        the health, happiness, and fortunes of a person or group

        To that end, it seems pretty obvious that the founders of the United States cared enough about the health of it's citizens.

        We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

        LOL. The Preamble does not give any power to the government. It explains WHY the Constitution was written, nothing more. It is certainly not an enumerated power and does not give the federal government unlimited power to "promoting the general Welfare" or "insure domestic Tranquility".

        • by Chowderbags (847952) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @03:06PM (#37543906)

          The Congress shall have power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

          Article 1, Section 8

          • by gangien (151940)

            But what color can the objection have, when a specification of the objects alluded to by these general terms immediately follows, and is not even separated by a longer pause than a semicolon? If the different parts of the same instrument ought to be so expounded, as to give meaning to every part which will bear it, shall one part of the same sentence be excluded altogether from a share in the meaning; and shall the more doubtful and indefinite terms be retained in their full extent, and the clear and precise expressions be denied any signification whatsoever? For what purpose could the enumeration of particular powers be inserted, if these and all others were meant to be included in the preceding general power? Nothing is more natural nor common than first to use a general phrase, and then to explain and qualify it by a recital of particulars. But the idea of an enumeration of particulars which neither explain nor qualify the general meaning, and can have no other effect than to confound and mislead, is an absurdity, which, as we are reduced to the dilemma of charging either on the authors of the objection or on the authors of the Constitution, we must take the liberty of supposing, had not its origin with the latter.

            The Federalist No. 41
            James Madison

      • by dwarfking (95773)

        As others have pointed out, the Preamble does not bestow any powers, it is merely an introduction.

        Now, inside the Constitution in the actual details, that phrase also exists in the Taxing and Spending clause (Article 1 Section 8 Clause 1), but is always taken out of context.

        The text of the clause is:

        The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

        Notice what follows the general Welfare -- of the United States (and this means the collection of States, not a federal republic).

        Our nation was founded as a union of independent sovereign States. At the time o

      • by Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @02:53PM (#37543668) Homepage
        To that end, it seems pretty obvious that the founders of the United States cared enough about the health of it's citizens.
        You know what is pretty obvious? What James Madison(the guy credited w/ writing the Constitution) had to say about that particular clause. "If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the general welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one subject to particular exceptions." So no, he didn't think that general welfare should be used to let Congress do what ever it wanted.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gurps_npc (621217)
      The health care law does NOT mandate that we buy. It taxes us if we don't buy insurances. More importantly, the tax it charges is about half the cost to buy insurance. It is not a ridiculously high tax. Just like the IRS taxes more us if we don't buy a home. You know that 50% of americans that don't pay taxes? Almost all of them that make more than 50k a year do it by having a home and taking the tax breaks related to owning a home. The US government charges us for not doing a lot of things. Claimi
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Hatta (162192)

      Guns, tanks, cruise missiles, aircraft carriers. I don't use any of those, and yet I am required to pay for them.

    • by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @02:09PM (#37542820)

      The problem isn't that we're mandated to buy it. The problem is that it's a mandatory service that *SHOULD BE PROVIDED BY THE GOVERNMENT*.

      I'm ok with being denied service based on my wages for a lot of things but when it comes to life saving medicine I don't see that as a "would be nice" feature.

      This goes back to the "Do you let them die?" question. Should a hospital let someone bleeding to death die in their Emergency Room if they have no insurance? I think except for at republican debates the answer is "no".

      So we've accepted that getting medical treatment is guaranteed.

      I'm going to probably shock people with this but you're already required to buy all manner of things. Do you want airbags? Too bad, buy a car and you get them. Do you want a life raft space for you on all cruise trips? Too bad, you have to buy one.

      Now yes you can choose to not drive a car or ride a boat but you can't choose to not be born. And once born our medical system is your life's liferaft.

    • by SETIGuy (33768) *
      We mandate that hospitals provide care to everyone regardless of ability to pay. This just mandates that everyone at least provide some payment toward that end in an inefficient way. The optimal way would be, of course, to use tax dollars to provide health care to everyone. Then nobody needs to buy anything, and the problem that is health insurance companies goes away.
  • At first glance I read "Healthcare Law Applied To Supreme Court". I bet that would get it struck down pretty fast!
  • Strike down ObamaCare, and you've got years of unraveling to do (especially in IT, which has been starting work in anticipation of several key dates coming up), as well as a apoplectic progressive left. Uphold ObamaCare, and you've got a drum upon which every libertarian and conservative will beat any time there's the slightest increase in health insurance costs, and who knows what kind of crazy social conservative will be the one to carry the mantle of the White House (even though most people just want fi

  • Ridiculous argument (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @01:51PM (#37542474) Journal

    It's clearly established that the US government can force you to pay a tax for services you never use. The health care law is less restrictive than that. It still forces you to pay, but you can choose the entity you pay. If the government can force you to buy something from a single source, then it certainly should be able to force you to buy something from one of many sources.

    However, I have no reason to believe that the Supreme Court will come to the obvious and logical conclusion here. That's not their job. Their job is to provide legal cover for the corporate agenda.

    • Can I choose a government run health care plan? Or do I have to choose private insurance? See the difference? It's very slight. If you want to say that the private industry can run it better, that isn't my argument. If the Federal government is going to force me to buy something, and not call it a tax, they had better offer what they are forcing me to buy. If they force me to pay some private corporation for health insurance, that is wrong.
    • by pavon (30274) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @02:41PM (#37543424)

      Except the Constitution explicitly gives congress the power to collect taxes. It is not at all clear that it has the power to "mandate that individuals enter into contracts with private insurance companies for the purchase of an expensive product from the time they are born until the time they die".

      All laws where similar things are done (such as requiring car insurance, requiring contractors to be licensed and bonded,etc), differ in significant ways. Some are enforced by the state, not the federal government, who have different powers granted to them. Some only apply when participating in an arguably optional activity not to everyone alive. Some are only required to engage in business, and thus more clearly fall under the interstate commerce act. This is an open legal question, one that was bound to challenged when the law was passed. The faster it gets resolved in the Supreme Court the better.

      However, I have no reason to believe that the Supreme Court will come to the obvious and logical conclusion here. That's not their job.

      No it isn't their job. Their job is to interpret the law and constitution as it is written, not according their own personal opinion/logic nor yours.

      • by Galestar (1473827)
        It doesn't mandate that you enter into these contracts. It says that if you don't, its going to tax you and put that money into a public option. You have a choice.
    • It's clearly established that the US government can force you to pay a tax for services you never use. The health care law is less restrictive than that. It still forces you to pay, but you can choose the entity you pay. If the government can force you to buy something from a single source, then it certainly should be able to force you to buy something from one of many sources.

      The difference is that tax rate is also set by the government - that is, by your elected representatives. So a law mandating that you pay a certain amount that is also codified in the law is reasonable. With healthcare, the law mandates that you buy a service from a private party, and "the market" sets the price. That is what's wrong about it.

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @01:56PM (#37542568) Homepage

    Single-payer national health insurance, like Medicare, would have had no constitutional problems. If the "public option" had been retained in the bill, it might have ended up as the only option.

    That's not a bad thing; Medicare's overhead is about 3%, while private insurers run a lot higher.

    • Except single-payer wouldn't have primarily benefited the healthcare industries like the HCR law does.

  • by Beelzebud (1361137) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @02:11PM (#37542864)
    The only way this will ever get better in the U.S. is when we have a single payer system, that covers everyone. There is simply no excuse for us to not have it. This is what has been most disappointing about Obama. He's passing center-right and right wing policies (mandates were originally the Republican idea, folks, Clinton rejected it in the 90's), and The Left is taking the blame for it. If we had a real liberal in there, he would have fought for "Medicare For All", and not a 1990's Republican plan.
    • by Above (100351) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @02:22PM (#37543052)

      I've long thought the best thing for health care in this country would be for the law to be struck down. Too many people in this down economy already like provisions of it (no pre-existing conditions, keeping kids on your insurance longer). Were it to be unconstitutional I think there would be a large swell of folks pushing for them to find some way to re-establish the law and make it constitutional.

      Single payer becomes the obvious choice. It may be that the way to single payer is to lose in the Supreme Court.

      • by Rich0 (548339) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @02:51PM (#37543638) Homepage

        Funny that you mention the pre-existing conditions bit - that is what drove the requirement for everybody to have insurance or pay a tax.

        It is a compromise:

        1. Insurance companies are forced to sell insurance to everybody whether they want to or not.
        2. People are forced to buy insurance, whether they want to or not.

        You can't really have the one without the other. Insurers would either go out of business, or policies would become far more unaffordable than they already are.

        There is no way the courts would strike this down. If they did insurers would just start denying pre-existing conditions again, and then fight that out in the courts for another 5 years while people die untreated in hospitals. One way or another they'd find a loophole since anything else would be financial suicide.

  • by slyrat (1143997) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @02:23PM (#37543094)
    I looked it up and found that John Adams signed a law mandating sailors to purchase health insurance. Here is a link to the law: 5th congress passed law [nih.gov] and an article talking about it: daily KOS article [dailykos.com] So if precedent means anything it doesn't look like the law will be struck down. Though stranger things have happened before.
  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @02:24PM (#37543110)
    If you go back to 1989, you'll see that The Heritage Foundation (a very conservative think-tank) floated the idea [procon.org] of the individual mandate for health insurance.

    .
    Through the 1990's, various Republicans submitted health care bills [procon.org] specifying the individual mandate.

    The Republicans are, as usual, being quite hypocritical in their objections to the individual mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. Perhaps it is time for the Republicans to back away from their objection to everything and roadblock generation, and get down to the business of governing.

  • by malkavian (9512) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @03:26PM (#37544248) Homepage

    Are health and justice.
    Without a method of law and justice, there's anarchy. And a civilization can't exist in an anarchy (well, not a big one anyway, and certainly not a world player).
    Hand in hand with that is health. When you're sick, you're returned to work, or the ability to go and get the next job.
    Without both of those, life would be hard. That's what prompted the NHS in the UK years ago, and much as though it's a popular whipping boy sometimes, and a big money sink, we do have a well functioning medical body that will fix most things.
    If you want it faster, by all means, take up private insurance as well (hell, when things go wrong at the private hospitals, they pack the patients back to the NHS where they know it'll be fixed).
    If you really don't think the state should be involved in the general wellbeing of the people, then how do you feel about a completely privately owned police force and court system. You think you get it rough now with the MPAA and RIAA lobbying to get through a heavily one sided deal? It would be orders of magnitude worse under a completely private, for profit, arrangement.
    Personally, I rate my health as highly as I rate a chance at getting a bit of justice (the legal system doesn't always give you the answer you want, same as a hospital won't always give you good news, but at least everyone should have a shot at getting some, without having to reach for a credit card).
    That's part of what I call freedom. If the world falls apart around you, at least you have your health 'eh? What, you can't afford the medication, and you have to put yourself in someone's debt to be able to do so? Hmmmm...
    Healthcare should be a function of government, with commerce adding the nice bits on top.. Faster, newer, hopefully better, but definitely more expensive. The real grunt work of keeping the masses healthy should be simple and cheap.. Not necessarily profitable.

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