Almost everyone in the political world is eagerly awaiting the Supreme Court’s ruling on health care reform, which is expected to be issued at 10am eastern time on Thursday. Here are a few thoughts and suggested readings while we wait.
1. Winning Progressive’s prediction is that the Court will uphold health care reform 6-3 for the reasons set forth in our earlier post on this issue and those set forth in this post by Robert Reich (h/t to Fay Paxton at The Pragmatic Pundit). In short, as two leading conservative appellate court judges, Jeffrey Sutton and Laurence Silberman, have both found, the health care reform legislation fits squarely within nearly 80 years of well-settled precedent regarding Congress’ authority to regulate interstate commerce under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Winning Progressive thinks that the three most activist conservative Justices – Scalia, Thomas, and Alito – won’t be able to convince Justices Roberts or Kennedy to throw away that 80 years of precedent. We hope we are right about that.
2. If we are wrong and the Supreme Court does invalidate health care reform, we progressives need to avoid the hand-wringing and circular firing squads and, instead, show some anger towards the real enemies of reform – an activist Supreme Court and conservative special interest groups. As Michael Tomasky explained in a must-read essay on this issue:
Almost never before in American history has a Supreme Court taken a law duly passed by the people’s representatives and in just two years’ time invalidated it. If that isn’t legislating from the bench, what is? Mr. Cool needs to get Hot. Against unanimous and ferocious opposition, and in the face of blatant lies about what this bill would and would not do, he and the Democrats came up with a way for people with cancer and diabetes and what have you to get the treatment they need and not be either turned away or gouged. [Obama’s] proud of that, he ought to say, and by God, he’s going to fight for it. That provision of the law is wildly popular—85 percent supported that, in a late-March New York Times survey.
3. In addition to showing some anger, progressives and Democrats need to frame their response to any Supreme Court reversal of health care reform in terms of the significant benefits that would be taken away from consumers. Presumably, every Republican politician would cheer a reversal of health care reform or, if health care reform is upheld, would reiterate their call for legislative repeal of the law. When they do, we should forcefully ask Republicans who oppose health care reform:
* Why are you allowing insurance companies to once again deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions?
* Why are you allowing insurance companies to once again place annual and lifetime caps on health care benefits?
* Why are you allowing insurance companies to restore recissions policies? Recission is the industry practice of happily accepting your premiums for years on end, but then finding any excuse to cancel your coverage as soon as you get sick
* Why are you depriving consumers of $1.3 billion in refunds resulting from insurance companies’ failure to spend at least 80% of your premiums on providing you with health care? If health care reform is invalidated, insurance companies will be freed of any requirements to devote a certain level of premiums to providing care, rather than to profit and advertising.
* Why are you depriving consumers of protection from unjustified insurance rate increases? Under health care reform’s Rate Review Program, insurance companies are now required to justify rate increases of more than 10%. In its first six months alone, that program protected more than 1.3 million consumers from unjustified insurance rate increases.
* Why are you reopening the Medicare prescription drug coverage doughnut hole, which health care reform began to close in 2011 and would fully eliminate by 2020? That provision of health care reform has already saved consumers $3.7 billion.
* Why are you allowing insurance companies to once again charge co-pays for preventive care services, such as cholesterol screening, mammograms and other cancer screening, and annual wellness visits? So far in 2012, 14.3 million seniors have received free preventive care services thanks to the health care reform that Republicans oppose.
* Why are you depriving young adults of insurance? By requiring insurance companies to cover under their parents’ policies adult children until they reach the age of 26, health care reform has led to 6.6 million more young adults gaining coverage
* Why are you depriving 32 million Americans of health insurance coverage? By providing tax credits to make coverage more affordable for families earning under $88,000 per year and small businesses, and by expanding Medicaid, health care reform is expected to expand coverage to 32 million more Americans, including more than 1.1 million veterans.
The reality is that if the Supreme Court, or Republicans in Congress, succeed in eliminating health care reform, they will be returning us to a broken health care system that costs too much, covers too few, and provides inadequate quality of care. President Obama’s health care reform was a very important first step towards fixing that system by expanding coverage, reducing costs, and ending abusive insurance industry practices. While conservatives are eager to eliminate President Obama’s reforms, the GOP has failed to set forth any credible plan for achieving those goals or for restoring the numerous benefits of health care reform that are detailed above.
4. If conservatives succeed in eliminating health care reform, we have two choices – either return to the broken system that health care reform was working to fix, or establishing a Medicare-for-all program. Medicare-for-all is the most efficient, cost-effective, and equitable health care system available, and should be the focus for Democrats and progressives if health care reform is struck down. And the first step in such effort is to work to make sure that we re-elect President Obama and a Democratic Congress, as Republicans like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are seeking to abolish Medicare.
5. Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules, it is important that we progressives win the message war that will erupt. So, take some time on Thursday and Friday to call your Congresspeople and write a letter to your local newspaper editor expressing support of health care reform and its benefits and opposition to conservative efforts to take those benefits away and return us to an utterly broken health care system.
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