News

Obama Faces High Stakes in Supreme Court Arguments on Health Care

Next week, the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on legal challenges to President Obama’s signature health care reform law. The court’s ruling, expected in June, will be of immense importance to Americans and a president seeking re-election in November.

President Obama signed health care reform into law in 2010 after prevailing in a year-long political struggle on an issue that defied bipartisan solutions for decades.

Thirty million uninsured Americans gain access to coverage. Highly popular provisions prohibit denial of coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions, and allow children to remain on their parents' plans until they are 26.

A recent opinion poll found that fewer Americans now believe their health care will worsen under the law.

Polls also show that opposition to the law remains high.  

Critics, such as Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, who is a doctor, call it a big government approach that will drive up deficits and debt and lower the quality of care.

“Patients I talk to want patient-centered health care," he said.  "They don’t want insurance company-centered or government-centered.”

Supreme Court arguments will focus on a requirement that virtually all Americans buy health insurance by 2014 or pay a tax penalty.

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.

Opponents call this unconstitutional and want the law repealed.

Scott Vavrinchik is a partner in a company in Chicago that provides kidney dialysis services, which the federal government normally pays for.

“I think it is unconstitutional.  I think it is a freedom of choice [issue]," he said.  "Health care is not a right, it is a commodity.”

Attorneys-general in 26 Republican-led states, filed suit against the health care law.  A Florida judge struck it down last year, though it has been upheld in other courts.

Maron Soueid, a recent college graduate from New Jersey, believes arguments against the law won’t stand in the long run.

“It has been difficult to find a job, and a job that will cover all of your health care, so this is definitely beneficial for a person like me,” Soueid said.

The Obama administration points out the law's benefits.  On the president's re-election campaign web site a video highlights a family relying on it to care for a daughter with a heart condition.

“I can’t even fathom what is going through the minds of people who want to repeal the health care act," the daughter's mother says in the video.  "They’re choosing life or death for many, many Americans.”

Health care is a key issue in the 2012 presidential campaign as Mr. Obama seeks re-election and spars with Republican challengers.

“Depending on what the Supreme Court rules, one side or the other could be particularly emboldened," said Henry Olsen, an analyst with the American Enterprise Institute.  "It also brings back the conversation to health care, which is not a good field for President Obama to be fighting on.”

If the Supreme Court upholds the health care law, Mr. Obama could gain important momentum before the November presidential election.

If the court strikes down major provisions, opponents will claim victory and argue that he mishandled his signature legislative achievement.

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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs