The following is from Jim Duffett, executive director of the Campaign for Better Health Care.
From March 26 to 28, 2012, the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments in Florida,et al., v. Department of Health and Human Services, et al.,
the historic challenge to the constitutionality of the Affordable
Care Act brought by the attorneys general of 26 states and the National
Federation of Independent Businesses. No case has been allotted this
much time for argument since the 19th century.
the Affordable Care Act was enacted in March 2010, dozens of legal
cases have been filed against the law. Most cases have been dismissed on
procedural grounds. Of the small number of cases that have gotten past
procedural hurdles, four cases have reached the Courts of Appeals.
those cases, three courts have rejected challenges to the law (the
Sixth Circuit and the DC Circuit upheld the law entirely, and the Fourth
Circuit found the challenge to be premature under the Anti-Injunction
Act). However, in the Eleventh Circuit, in a case brought by the
attorneys general of 26 states and the National Federation of
Independent Businesses, the court found the personal responsibility
provision to be unconstitutional. However, that court left the rest of
the law in place and specifically found the Medicaid expansion
The federal government has
appealed the decision striking down the personal responsibility
provision. The states and National Federation of Independent Businesses
have appealed the parts of the decision that upheld the Medicaid
expansion and that left the rest of the law in place. No party is
arguing that the case against the personal responsibility provision is
premature under the Anti-Injunction Act—the Supreme Court has decided on
its own to consider that question.
for Better Health Care hopes that the justices fully consider the legal
precedents that have already been set in similar cases and find that the
law is constitutional. We want to see this law given the full stamp of
approval of the highest court in the land so that instead of wasting
time playing politics around the Affordable Care Act, lawmakers move
ahead to implement it.
The central questions here
are: What kind of a country do we want to live in? What values do we
have as Americans? This isn't a policy debate, it is a philosophical
one. The arguments at the core of it are "you're on your own" versus
"taking personal responsibility for the common good of your family and
America." Our nation was built on the ideals of personal responsibility
and working for the common good of our country. Those are the ideals
that Obamacare promotes.
The Affordable Care Act protects and offers all Americans the opportunity to obtain quality, affordable health care.
People like the consumer protections in the law. They do not want to
give up the vital protections that the Affordable Care Act provides them
and go back to being at the mercy of insurance companies. Striking
down the Affordable Care Act would take away protections that Americans
already have or are about to gain, including:
- rules already prohibiting insurers from denying coverage to people, including children, with pre-existing conditions
- tax credits that are already helping small businesses provide coverage to their employees
- rules prohibiting insurers from canceling coverage when people get sick
- rules prohibiting insurers from dropping young adults from their parents’ coverage
- rules prohibiting insurers from imposing annual or lifetime caps on coverage
- improved prescription drug coverage and preventive benefits for seniors and people with disabilities who rely on Medicare
The Affordable Care Act is constitutional,
having already been upheld by multiple courts, including by leading
conservative judges. If the Supreme Court follows existing precedent, it
will uphold the law. Three separate Circuit Courts of Appeal have
rejected challenges to the law, with two of these decisions including
opinions written by leading conservative judges.
law is constitutional because Congress has broad authority to
regulate interstate commerce. This authority comes from the
Constitution’s commerce clause and necessary and proper clause and has
been undisputed in Supreme Court rulings dating back at least 75 years.
Legal precedent has been well established in this case, so let's move
The Affordable Care Act is fair.
The personal responsibility provision is a common-sense rule that
will ultimately affect about 1 percent of Americans, and the 83 percent
of Americans who already have health insurance (for example, through
their jobs or through Medicare) will not be affected by it. Most people
without health insurance want coverage but cannot get it, either because
they cannot afford it or they are denied it due to their
pre-existing conditions. The Affordable Care Act makes coverage
affordable and eliminates exclusions for pre-existing conditions. When
these people get coverage, they will not be subject to the penalty
It is estimated that, at most, 1 percent
of the population will refuse to buy coverage and will not qualify for
an exemption (for example, for religious reasons or economic hardship).
These people should pay their fair share and get coverage before they
get sick; waiting until they get sick to get coverage only shifts the
cost of their care onto everyone else.
changes to our national priorities and policies generate opposition. The
Social Security Act in the 1930s and Medicare and the Civil Rights Act
in the 1960s were bitterly attacked at the time they were passed. The
Social Security Act and Civil Rights Act were even declared
unconstitutional by lower courts before the Supreme Court upheld them.
Now these laws are part of the fabric of American society. The same
will happen with the Affordable Care Act.