Hope for the Health Care Bill? Bad Signs from the Supreme Court, Say Bob Weiner, Former House Aging Comm. & Health Subcomm. Director, and Analyst Richard Mann; Op-Ed in Palm Beach Post
WASHINGTON, Oct. 5, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Is there hope for the Health Bill in the Supreme Court? There are bad signs from the Court, say Robert Weiner, former Chief of Staff of the House Aging Committee and Health Subcommittee under Chairman Claude Pepper (D-FL) and a former senior White House spokesman, and Richard Mann, senior policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates.
In a column in the Palm Beach Post, Weiner and Mann assert, “Conservatives have made national health care a partisan issue because it was such a signal accomplishment by President Obama. An overriding national need for health care can be determined as part of the Constitution’s ‘general welfare’ clause and Congress’ right to legislate funding. Anthony Kennedy has taken over the role of ‘swing vote’ since Sandra Day O’Connor retired in 2005, but it has become increasingly common for Justice Kennedy to side with the court’s right. They quote CNN’s legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin: ‘The court is more polarized than it’s been in easily a generation. We are looking forward toward years of 5-4 rulings.’”
Weiner and Mann continue, “The rest of the conservative bloc — Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas — could be called ‘spoken for.’ Justice Thomas’ wife emailed congressional chiefs of staff that she is ‘an ambassador to the Tea Party movement,’ which opposes the health care law. Instead of disclosing his wife’s earnings from conservative groups, including one she heads, Justice Thomas checked ‘none’ on the court’s forms. The Code of Conduct for U.S. Judges says they ‘should not personally participate in public fund-raising activities,’ but in 2009 he was featured at a Heritage Foundation fund-raiser.”
The Obama administration has decided to appeal directly to the Supreme Court the Affordable Care Act challenge by Republican attorneys general from 25 states, including Florida, and one Democrat. However, according to Weiner and Mann, “support for the bill is unlikely with this politically appointed court.”
They explain, “In August, a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled the individual mandate unconstitutional but allowed the rest of the law to stand. The ruling differed from a January decision by U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson, who, ruling in the case brought by Florida, said that ‘because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void.’ Other courts have supported the bill outright.
“The Supreme Court may take up the case this month and could rule as early as June, in the middle of the presidential election.”
“The whole law is at stake. Striking down all or part of it would take benefits away from people, but far more is at risk with a total overturn,” Weiner and Mann contend. “Without the mandate, the law could continue to cover citizens with pre-existing conditions, allow children to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, block lifetime benefit caps and expand Medicaid.”
“Howard Dean, a physician and former Democratic chairman, has said that the mandate is only 4 percent of the law.” Weiner and Mann added today, following their article; “While the mandate helps pay for the other provisions, the health insurance companies are making billions in profit, continually increase premiums anyway, and can and should absorb the cost of actually providing health care.”
Weiner and Mann point out in their article what is at stake just in Florida alone: “The ban on lifetime benefit caps means that 8.8 million residents never have to worry about coverage running out. More than 86,000 children are now covered on parents’ insurance. The law provides $351 million for uninsured Floridians with pre-existing conditions and expands the solvency by nine years of Medicare, which covers more than 3 million Floridians.”
They authors say that “the Administration seems oddly confident that the Supreme Court will take its side on the mandate and the rest of the law. Don’t bet the farm.”
They point to the Justice Department’s statement that “there have been similar challenges to other landmark legislation, such as the Social Security Act, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, and all of those challenges failed,” and the Department’s assertion, “We believe the challenges to the Affordable Care Act will also ultimately fail and that the Supreme Court will uphold the law.”
While doubtful, Weiner and Mann clearly hope the Justice Department is right. They conclude, “America is the land of opportunity. Will anyone be able to say that if conservatives on the Supreme Court deny citizens the opportunity to receive health care?”
Robert Weiner was a White House spokesman and chief of staff for the House Aging Committee and Health Subcommittee under Rep. Claude Pepper, D-Fla. Richard Mann is a senior policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates.
Contact: Bob Weiner / Khurram Abbas 301-283-0821 or 202-329-1700
SOURCE Robert Weiner Associates