Entries in Health Care Law (7)


Medical Organizations Applaud Health Care Ruling

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on Thursday that the Affordable Care Act, with its individual mandate, is constitutional has elicited a wide range of opinions from across the medical community.

Most major national medical organizations -- including the American Medical Association, the National Physicians Alliance, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Association of American Medical Colleges -- hail the ruling as a victory.  Many of these organizations have been strong supporters of the ACA since Congress passed it in 2010.

"The American Medical Association has long supported health insurance coverage for all, and we are pleased that this decision means millions of Americans can look forward to the coverage they need to get healthy and stay healthy," said Dr. Jeremy Lazarus, president of the American Medical Association.

"At last, the country is moving in a healthy direction on health care," said Dr. Valier Arkoosh, president of the National Physicians Alliance.

However, a handful of medical organizations are not as enthusiastic.

"We cannot overlook provisions like the Independent Payment Advisory Board that threaten the doctor-patient relationship and the administrative burdens within the law that could greatly hinder providers' ability to deliver quality care by infringing upon exam room time," said Dr. John Tongue, president of the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

"We are concerned that there are key aspects to this law that will, ultimately, hurt this nation's ability to provide widespread are for its citizens," the American Urological Association, the American Association of Clinical Urologists, and the Large Urology Group Practice Association said in a joint statement.

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the individual mandate, which states that all Americans must have health insurance or else pay a fine.  The Court stated that the fine is essentially a tax, giving the government the right to impose it.  However, the Court limited the law's ability to expand Medicaid, deciding that the U.S. government cannot withhold a state's Medicaid money if the state doesn't want to participate in the expansion.

The ACA, initially passed through Congress in 2010, could potentially cover more than 30 million people who are currently uninsured in the United States.

The law also has support from a wide range of patient advocacy groups, including the American Cancer Society, the National Organization for Rare Diseases, the American Heart Association, Consumer Reports, and the March of Dimes.

The parts of the law that have already been implemented will not be changed. Thus, children can stay on their parents' health insurance until they turn 26, and patients will not have to provide co-payments for preventive care.  However, the key piece of the law -- the individual mandate -- will not commence until 2014.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Supreme Court Health Care Ruling: What It Means For You

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court ruled five to four Thursday morning that President Obama’s health-care law, his top domestic policy achievement, is constitutional because the “individual mandate” -- the penalty individuals must pay for not buying health insurance -- can be considered a tax.

Here is what the decision means for you:

  • You have to buy health insurance or be subject to a tax.
  • If you are under 26, you can get health insurance from the plan your parents use.
  • If you’re on Medicare, you can get free mammograms.
  • If you have what’s called a pre-existing condition, you can get health insurance.
  • Insurance companies can’t deny you coverage even if you get sick and make a mistake on your health insurance application.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


President Clinton Cites Cases He Would Have Used in Health Care Law Case

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Former President Bill Clinton, who used to teach constitutional law, has a list of cases he seems surprised the Obama administration didn’t cite in its arguments defending the health care law before the U.S. Supreme Court last week.

“It seemed to me that the conservative justices were just accepting as a matter of course that there was a serious constitutional question here,” the former president said, “and that they didn’t make the plaintiffs, the people that want to strike the law down, prove their case.”

“Nobody asked, for example, do they want to overturn a case called Wickard v. Filburn in 1942,” Clinton said. “Where in the beginning of World War II, where we were still coming out of the Depression, a farmer was told and the Supreme Court upheld the ability of the federal government to limit his ability to grow food on his own farm for personal consumption. Because they said it affected the aggregate amount of food consumed in interstate commerce and the price of food.”

Said Clinton, of the case, “that goes far further than the individual mandate. No one can question that the accumulated decisions by American individuals not to buy health care adds $1,000 a year to your health care premium.”

President Clinton noted, smiling, that “Justice (Antonin) Scalia loves the framers, right? We’re somehow supposed to follow the intent of the framers. I believe George Washington signed a bill to require shipping companies to insure their employees. I believe George Washington– I could be wrong about this. I believe he signed a bill to require able-bodied male citizens to have a rifle in their home. In case the British came back. Now, that’s not the right to keep and bear arms. You don’t have a right not to bear one. All the Quakers were supposed to buy rifles.” He added that President “John Adams, another framer, signed a bill to require individual seamen to buy hospitalization insurance.”

“So if those facts are right, what is this case about, anyway? Unless it’s politics,” Clinton said.

The president made his comments in an exclusive interview with ABC News focused on his work with Clinton Global Initiative University.

Asked if he thinks the Supreme Court is too political, the president said, “only occasionally.” This court, he said, is “genuinely more conservative. And I think that conservatives in general believe that every branch of government should advance their philosophy. Prosecutors, judges, no different than members of Congress. That’s a different view than we’ve had in the past. But you saw that in the Bush V. Gore decision.”

The former president began recalling that 2000 case in detail, calling it “a pretty political decision. It was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen.”

How would that case impact this one?

“I think it will make them either more willing to do it again, or maybe they say, ‘You know, we probably shouldn’t do that again,’” Clinton said.

The president reiterated that he found it “interesting that– that there was apparently no discussion of those previous examples of individual mandates.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Bitter Pill for Obama: New Study Underlines Unfulfilled Promises of Health Care Law

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation underlines that many of the promises surrounding President Obama’s health care law remain unfulfilled, though the White House argues that change is coming.

Obama and his supporters like then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted passage of the Affordable Care Act would cause health care premiums to drop, but the independent group's findings mirror predictions made by the measure's critics.

The Kaiser study shows family premiums topped $15,000 a year for the first time in 2011, increasing a whopping 9% this year, three times more than the increase the year before. The study says that up to 2% of that increase is because of the health care law’s provisions, such as allowing families to add grown children up to 26 years old to their policies.

So what about that $2,500 in savings the president pledged in 2008? White House deputy chief of staff Nancy-Ann DeParle insists families will see that savings -- by 2019.

"Many of the changes in the Affordable Care Act are starting this year, and in succeeding years," DeParle told ABC News, "and by 2019 we estimate that the average family will save around $2,000."

DeParle said that the "big increases that occurred last year were probably driven by insurance plans overestimating what the impact would be and maybe trying to take some profits upfront before some of the changes in the Affordable Care Act occur.

The Kaiser study also indicates employers are switching plans and shifting costs onto employees. Half of workers in smaller firms now face “deductibles of at least $1,000, including 28 percent facing deductibles of $2,000 or more,” according to the study.

For example, Flora Venture’s new policy increased the deductible employees pay to $5,000.

“What the president promised is that under health care reform, that he would make it more possible for people to have choices in these (health insurance) exchanges,” DeParle said. “And that’s going to be what will help businesses bring costs down. Right now, they’re just struggling. That’s one reason why they’re shifting costs to employees.”

DeParle said that “once health care reform fully takes hold in 2014 and beyond, employers will have more tools and more ability to help bring down costs,” she said, including the new health insurance exchanges.

Before it was passed by Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, critics of the then-bill slammed the 2014 start date as a way to hide the Affordable Care Act's deleterious effects on the economy -- and on Americans -- until after a possible re-election of President Obama.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama's Health Care Law Argued in Federal Appeals Court

Dynamic Graphics/Thinkstock(RICHMOND, Va.) -- A panel of three Federal Appeals Court judges Tuesday expressed skepticism of legal arguments against the Obama administration's health care law during a hearing in Richmond, Va.

Two hotly-contested cases, argued in the courtroom Tuesday, challenge the constitutionality of a key provision of the landmark law, which requires individuals to buy health care insurance by 2014 or face a tax penalty.

All three judges on the panel were appointed to the circuit by Democratic presidents -- two by President Obama and a third by President Bill Clinton. The judges were randomly picked by a computer program.

Matt Staver, a lawyer for Liberty University, an evangelical Christian school challenging the law, argued in the first case that the so-called "individual mandate" is unconstitutional because Congress does not have the authority to force Americans to participate in a marketplace.

Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal defended the health care law's individual insurance mandate, saying that Congress was within its authority to regulate interstate commerce under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

In a second case heard by the appellate panel, the judges also seemed skeptical of the whether or not the state of Virginia has the legal right, or "standing," to bring the case.

E. Duncan Getchell Jr., the Solicitor General of Virginia, argued that his state does have the right to challenge the law because it interferes with a state law already on the books. He said that residents cannot be forced to buy health insurance.

Two other appellate courts will hear similar challenges to the law this spring. Court watchers believe the issue could reach the U.S. Supreme Court sometime during the term that begins in the fall of 2011.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Health Care Appeals Court Date Set

Win McNamee/ Getty Images News (ATLANTA) -- A federal appeals court has set a hearing date to consider a Florida judge's ruling that President Obama's health care overhaul is unconstitutional. The lawsuit under consideration was filed by 26 states.

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson in Florida ruled the federal health care overhaul unconstitutional saying the requirement that all Americans carry health insurance demonstrates an overstepping of authority. Thirteen states, led by Florida, challenged the legislation before Vinson and thirteen more states later joined.

The hearing will take place June 8 in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. The scheduling grants the Obama administration motion for an early hearing which would allow the Supreme Court to hear the case as early as the fall.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Third Federal Judge Upholds Health Care Law; Score Now 3-2

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a victory for the Obama administration, a federal  judge Tuesday night has upheld the constitutionality of the administration's health care law.

U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler, of the District of Columbia, wrote that Congress "was acting within the bounds of its Commerce Clause power" when it mandated that individuals buy health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty.
The ruling brings the judicial scorecard to 3-2. Three federal judges -- all nominated by Democratic presidents -- have upheld the law, while two judges -- nominated by Republican presidents -- struck down its core provision.
In upholding the law, Kessler said that the decision to forgo health insurance by some individuals leads to substantially higher insurance premiums for other individuals who do obtain coverage.
"There is nothing extraordinary about Congress' use of its Commerce Clause power," she wrote, "to rein in the price of health insurance policies."
She rejected any claim that an individual's choice not to enter the health insurance marketplace was akin to "inactivity." The law's critics claim that while Congress can regulate economic activity, it cannot regulate "inactivity," such as an individual's choice not to buy health insurance. Kessler called the debate between activity and inactivity "pure semantics."

The case was brought by several plaintiffs who could afford health insurance but for reasons of religion, or a belief in holistic health care, chose not to participate in the marketplace.

In a statement Tuesday evening, the Department of Justice praised the ruling.

"This court found -- as two others have previously -- that the minimum coverage provision of the statute was a reasonable measure for Congress to take in reforming our health care system," spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said.

Kessler noted in her ruling that it was "highly likely" that the Supreme Court of the United States would eventually be required to rule on the matter.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio