News

US Supreme Court to Make Historic Health-Care Decision

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will take up a case that will have a lasting effect on American laws and virtually every American's access to health care.  For three days, the justices will hear arguments regarding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act - a medical insurance overhaul that the U.S. Congress passed two years ago.

Three families explain what's at stake for them.    

Just like he did four years ago, Miles Fawcett is there to catch his daughter when she needs him.  

Serena was born with a severe liver defect.  Her dad donated part of his liver to save his little girl's life. Now both have what's called a pre-exisiting condition.

Key aspects and programs of the Affordable Care Act:

  • Adult children can remain on their parent’s insurance coverage through the age of 26.
  • An end to lifetime limits on the dollar value of benefits available to people with serious medical conditions.
  • Preventive healthcare benefits including free coverage for mammograms and birth control.
  • Medicare beneficiaries get a 50% discount on covered brand name drugs and 14% savings on generic drugs.
  • Insurance companies must justify unreasonably large healthcare premium increases.
  • Business with more than 200 employees must enroll their employees in health insurance programs or pay a penalty.
  • Businesses with 50 to 200 employees who work 30 hours or more a week must offer insurance or money to workers who want to get insurance elsewhere.
  • Businesses with less than 50 employees are exempt from coverage provisions.

The Affordable Health Care law says no insurance company can deny coverage based on that.  Serena's mother, Mira, worries what might happen if the Supreme Court rules the law unconstitutional.

“It’s difficult for me to think about somebody who’s gone through something through no fault of their own, who’s had to go through so much, to have the bottom drop out like that," she said.

Steve Fleishman runs a bagel business and does not offer health care to every employee. He would see no change if he stays under 50 employees.  But, if he hires more, Fleishman would have to offer affordable coverage to his regular workers or pay a penalty.

He says - in this economy - there's not much profit left over when he wraps up the day, so, he'd have to raise prices and cut staff.

“I’d want to fall into the category of somewhere between 40 and 49 employees, so somewhere along the line we’d have to trim down and work a little harder to not be in that category so we wouldn’t have to pay for health benefits," said Fleishman.

Dianna Buckett is studying for an advanced degree in public health at Johns Hopkins University.  The new law allows her to remain under her parents' health insurance until age 26, even after graduation.

“There’s not a lot out there that’s a full-time position without prior job experience," said Buckett. "A lot of what I’m looking into is internships and, even if they are paid, the biggest thing is you don’t get benefits.”

"On every scale this is a monumental case," said attorney Tom Goldstein.

Goldstein has a stash of quill pens - one to mark each case he's argued before the Supreme Court. The real debate here is if Congress has the authority to mandate health insurance for all Americans.

"It involves the signature accomplishment of the president and it involves a question which affects the healthcare, which is absolutely basic to a hundred million people at least," he said.

With that in mind, the justices have scheduled six hours of arguments over three days.  That's the longest given any case since the 1960s.  And for good reason - analysts say their decision will be cited in American courts for the next 250 years.


Carolyn Presutti

Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.   She has also won numerous Associated Press awards and a Clarion for her coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, and The 9/11 Bombing Anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Asiana plane crash and was named VOA’s chief reporter with Google Glass.

You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at CarolynVOA, on Google Plus and Facebook.
This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs