Divining the Fate of the Affordable Care Act

Divining the Fate of the Affordable Care Act

After three days of Supreme Court testimony, the consensus seems to be that the Affordable Care Act may or may not be in trouble. If you read ambivalence in that sentence, you read it right. There’s a lot of it out there.

Two Justices in Play

At The New York Times, a panel of experts was quoted as saying two justices are believed to be most “in play”: Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. One pundit noted a “tonal” difference in these two justices questioning of Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., who argued for the act, and those directed at Paul D. Clement and Michael A. Carvin, who argued against it. Another reasoned that Kennedy might uphold the act while Roberts will oppose it. Yet another said there are reasons for both sides to hope for the win. Someone else declared it dead. All of this basically tells us nothing.

How the Pundits Got It Wrong

The Week opined that “the five members of the court’s conservative majority all apparently doubt whether Congress has the authority to force (nearly) every American to buy health insurance (the “individual mandate”),” then rounded up four theories about how so many pundits botched their predictions about what the Supremes would do. Those theories are: 1.) “Obama’s lawyer unexpectedly blew it”; 2.) “Nobody knew Scalia would embrace Tea Party talking points”; 3.) “The reform law’s backers were delusional”; 4.) “They were just wrong… or were they?” There’s that ambivalence again.

The ‘Best, Most Revealing’ Healthcare Reporting

ProPublica opted out of the speculation entirely and instead looked back at some of the “best, most revealing” reporting on the U.S. healthcare system in the last few years.

Religious Liberty Implications

At National Review, Mark Rienzi asked whether or not arguments on the constitutionality of the individual mandate and the expanded Medicaid entitlement could affect the “religious-liberty lawsuits challenging the HHS abortion/sterilization/contraception mandate” and said—wait for it—”The short answer is: Maybe.”

President Should ‘Target’ Supreme Court

Some think the president could target the Supreme Court politically by “accusing the justices of rank partisanship and judicial activism,” according to The Huffington Post. Included among them is Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.). “The president [should] take a look at exactly what he needs to do to connect with the American people. Let them know he has done everything that he can possibly do. And ask them to give him a mandate for the years going forward,” Clyburn reportedly said on MSNBC this morning. That’s definitive, and predictable.

Betting on the Future of Healthcare Reform

At the New Jersey Star-Ledger, John Farmer was willing to bet that the future of healthcare is at stake: “Odds are that if the Supremes strike down Obamacare, no such herculean legislative effort to deal with this hairball of a problem will be tried again anytime soon. And the numbers of the uninsured — and the burden they impose on society — will continue to grow.”

Maybe; Maybe Not

LaVonne Neff sounded a similar warning at Sojourners, but was almost as non-committal as everyone else on the fate of the affordable care act, except when telling four stories of people struggling to get or stayed insured. “Maybe the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and maybe it’s not. If it turns out to be constitutional, maybe it’s good legislation and maybe it’s not. In any case, it’s looking increasingly likely that the Supreme Court, come June, will strike down at least the requirement that everyone buy health insurance. And if the mandate goes, two other requirements will most likely go with it: Once again insurers will be able to reject or refuse to renew applicants. And once again Americans with pre-existing conditions will be uninsurable,” said Neff before telling those stories, all of which sound a lot like my own.

Praying and Singing for Victory

Finally, Christians on both sides of the issue continued to rally, pray, and sing for the outcome they desired, The Christian Post reported. “Supporters had a brass marching band for their rally playing ‘When the Saints Go Marching In.’ During Sunday’s candlelight vigil, onlookers could listen to ‘We Shall Overcome,'” the article said. But, I wonder, would it be possible for opposing sides to come together and pray, “Thy will be done” instead of “My will be done”?

What do you think?

How will the fate of the Affordable Care Act affect you and your family?