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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

Ali Regained Title in Historic Fight 40 Years Ago

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid