How Solid Is Supreme Court Decision on Obamacare?

July 1, 2015

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We have a new decision in the Affordable Care Act which is precedent setting and will be very advantageous for many people in the United States who previously lacked medical insurance. But, how long will this law be in effect and how likely is it to be overturned?

This is an important question because there is a presidential election coming soon and the Republicans are not happy about the Supreme Court’s decision to allow subsidies for the poor and middle class applicants for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

There are only two ways to negate this decision. Congress would have to amend the Constitution, which would require a three quarters vote from Congress to overturn it. In the past, it has been very challenging, to say the least, to attain a three quarters vote from Congress. In other words, three quarters of the Senators and House of Representatives had to agree that a change needed to take place. It is unlikely the Congress would reach this agreement because so many of the Democrats were supportive of President Obama’s recommendations on the changes in health care.

For the most part, most of the Republicans in Congress are opposed to the Affordable Care Act, while the Democrats are in support of it. It is unlikely, though not impossible, for this law to be amended by Congress at this early stage. There would have to be a good reason for it to be detrimental to the enrollees in the program. There has not been enough time to allow Congress to observe whether or not the law is working for the citizens. In the past, it has taken years for a Supreme Court ruling to be overturned. For example, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in the case of Lochner v. New York (1905) that placing limits on the number of hours a baker could work was unconstitutional. It was overturned in 1937, a total of thirty – two years later.

The case involving Austin v. Michigan State Chamber of Commerce (1990), preventing corporations from making campaign contributions and purchasing political advertising from their general funds was overturned in 2010. However, the Oregon v. Mitchell (1970), overturned just a few months later in 1971, was the fastest constitutional amendment ever overturned.

The Supreme Court can also overrule its own rulings when another case involving the same issues challenges the Supreme Court. There is usually a long period of time from when the Supreme Court rules on a case until the time that it is overturned. This has happened many times over the course of U.S. history.

In conclusion, it is difficult to say at this time whether or not the Supreme Court decision will be overruled, as we do not know how long it will take for the Republicans to initiate a change.


A Victory for Proponents of the Affordable Care Act

June 26, 2015

Just as Obama’s second term is nearing an end, he was able to gain a ruling from the Supreme Court that government health care subsidies for the poor and middle class people were legal. The Obama Administration took steps to receive a ruling from the Supreme Court that these subsidies were legal so that the Affordable Care Act would remain even after his term as president of the United States had ended.

Needless to say, this infuriated the Republicans who took a stand against the Affordable Care Act at its inception. They argue that in the long run, the cost of health care would increase for the poor and middle class people and would render them unable to afford health care. These subsidies would be available for all applicants for health insurance regardless of whether they are purchasing in a state providing a state sponsored insurance marketplace or a state which opted not to form am insurance exchange.

If the Republicans want this decision overruled, it is going to take an amendment to the Constitution. The Republicans were not pleased with the Supreme Court ruling and accused the supreme court judges of “circumventing Congress and rewriting bad laws.” The Republicans have vowed to work on changing this recent ruling during the next election.

This is an important victory for poor and middle class families who do not have health insurance and for those who feared they would lose their health coverage after President Obama left office. An estimated six million people were at risk of losing their health insurance coverage.

Before Obamacare was enacted, fifty-seven percent of private insurance enrollees were uninsured. The states with the highest rates of uninsured enrollees were: Texas, Arizona, Montana, Arkansas, Alaska, Nevada, New Mexico, Nevada, Florida, Louisiana, all with over twenty percent of their enrollees without health insurance. Despite the enactment of Obamacare, several states have not instituted an insurance exchange and have not expanded their Medicaid program. The states in red in the chart below have not expanded their Medicaid program.

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From Wallethub


An Increase in Americans Applying for Affordable Health Care

November 29, 2014

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The Obama administration reports that three time as many people applied for health coverage on-line which resulted in more applicants than had applied in November and December of 2013.

Many of the new applicants this year were people who had lost their coverage due to non-payment of premium or had no coverage at all. Others had simply renewed their coverage. In the case of new people enrolling in health care coverage for the first time since the enactment of Obamacare, most of them may have found that they will be paying more in deductibles and co-payments. As more come into the system, more will be turning to voluntary benefits as a way to defray their costs.

Some private insurance companies offer voluntary benefits which pay lump sums of money for hospital visits and other procedures such as surgery and diagnostic testing to help defray the costs of co-payments, deductibles, rent, mortgage, and utilities. These amounts are offered over and above the actual charges incurred for these visits. Employees also receive life insurance and disability coverage, which they may not have had at their companies.

There were many problems with the implementation of Obamacare last year, as many people experienced delays in the processing of their applications. There were many problems with the computers which had to be resolved. Additionally, the climate under which the former health and human services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius had to operate, was difficult because of the opposition of many of the members of Congress to Obamacare.

Consequently, Sylvia Matthews Burwell was appointed to replace Kathleen Sebelius when she resigned in June 2014. Ms. Burwell has already implemented weekly reporting on the enrollments, as opposed to monthly. She has been hailed as an extremely skilled negotiator and knowledgeable about the health care system.

Ms. Burwell will be facing many challenges with the states of Texas and Florida who have not offered Medicaid to more of their residents who need them, nor have they set up health exchanges for their states. Her background and experience in working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other non-profit agencies will enable her to overcome many of the challenges she will face in this position.

In conclusion, it appears that more people who need health coverage are gaining access to a system which will enable them to secure the needed coverage.