News / USA

Legal, Political Battles Continue Over US Health Care Law

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., right, listens to testimony on Capitol Hill in Washington, during the committee's hearing examining the validity of the national health care law under the Constitution, February 02, 2011.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., right, listens to testimony on Capitol Hill in Washington, during the committee's hearing examining the validity of the national health care law under the Constitution, February 02, 2011.

It has been almost a year since President Barack Obama signed the sweeping health-care reform act into law in the United States.  But the political and legal battles over the law continue to rage.

Democrats in the U.S. Senate rallied to defend the president’s signature health-care law in the wake of another legal setback for the law this week in Florida.

On Monday, a federal judge in Florida ruled the law was unconstitutional because part of the statute requires Americans to buy health insurance. That was the second federal-court ruling against the new law. Two other federal judges have upheld it.

Senate Democrats held a hearing Wednesday to discuss whether the health-care law is constitutional, although that judgment is ultimately expected to come from the Supreme Court.

"They want to achieve in courts what they were unable to achieve in Congress," said Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "This was debated for over a year."

Republicans have been inspired by the latest court ruling in Florida and vow to continue their efforts to repeal the health-care law.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., right, and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo. take part in a news conference, on Capitol Hill in Washington, to repeat their opposition to the national health care law, February 02, 2011.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., right, and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo. take part in a news conference, on Capitol Hill in Washington, to repeat their opposition to the national health care law, February 02, 2011.
"People all across the country are telling President Obama and telling Washington to take their hands off of the people’s health care," said John Barrasso, a Republican senator from Wyoming.

The House of Representatives, now under Republican control, voted to repeal the law last month.  But the chances for repeal in the Senate are poor since Democrats still hold a narrow majority.

Legal experts are also debating the health-care law, including several who testified before the Senate.

Georgetown University Professor Randy Barnett predicts the Supreme Court will eventually rule that the law is unconstitutional.

"In the United States, sovereignty rests with the people, with the citizenry," said Barnett. "And if Congress can mandate that you do anything that is convenient to its regulation of the national economy, then that relationship is now reversed. Congress would have all the discretionary power of a king, and the American people would be reduced to its subjects."

But another expert, Harvard University Professor Charles Fried, has a different view.

"I am not sure it is good policy," he said. "I am not sure it is going to make the country any better. But I am quite sure that the health-care mandate is constitutional."

President Obama spoke out in defense of the law in his recent State of the Union Address, although he also indicated a willingness to consider bipartisan changes to the law where possible.

"So I say to this chamber tonight, instead of refighting the battles of the last two years, let us fix what needs fixing and let us move forward," he said.

The politics of health-care reform in the United States are complicated.  The president signed the reform act into law last year after it was passed in Congress with support from Democrats only.

Political analyst Charlie Cook says the health-care law remains a divisive issue in public-opinion polls.

"At best, the American people are evenly divided on health-care reform and this health-care proposal, at best," said Cook. "There is not a strong consensus to keep it.  There is not a strong consensus to throw it out."

The latest Associated Press-GfK poll found 41 percent oppose the health care law, while 40 percent support it.

The legal challenges to the law are expected to work their way through the Federal Court system eventually up to the Supreme Court, but that process could take a year or two to complete.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid