Health Care Law Will Be Fought on Three Fronts

December 29, 2010 06:59

CNN poll found that six in ten Americans oppose being forced to purchase health insurance or face a stiff penalty. A majority still oppose the new law by a smaller margin than earlier this year.

The Americano

A poll released Monday by CNN opened the debate on what a strengthened and emboldened Republican Party will try to do to repeal or defund President Barack Obama’s Healthcare Reform Act.

Even as one of the most crucial components of the new law, the part that requires all Americans to buy health insurance, almost certainly will be decided by the federal court system, if not the Supreme Court itself, the CNN poll found that six in ten Americans oppose being forced to purchase health insurance or face a stiff penalty.

According to the poll, a majority of those questioned in the survey still oppose the new law, albeit by a smaller margin than earlier this year.

Starting with the new year, however, the bill will move in three distinct roads.

Already the administration has issued new Medicare regulations that go into effect Jan. 1 that allows doctors to have – end-of-life – conversations as part of their annual wellness check up, even though Congress specifically withdrew that provision from the law because of the uproar it caused when first brought up in 2009.

Opponents of the provision said this was the first step towards rationing health care to the aging as budget constraints force the government to cut back on what it can afford to pay for individual healthcare amidst a growing national deficit.

Meanwhile, the Health Care Reform Act itself will continue to be challenged in court, in hopes of determining if requiring all American to purchase health insurance or face a stiff penalty is a violation of the Constitution’s commerce clause. One Federal judge in Virginia ruled against the administration, while two other federal judges have found the in favor of the government.

The biggest case, however, in Pensacola, Florida, had the attorney generals of 20 states challenge the law on similar grounds. The judge in Pensacola, still has not ruled.

Still, this is but the start of the judicial process. If the government loses it will appeal, and if it wins, the opponents of the law will appeal. Many legal observers believe the issue in the end will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

And starting on January 5, when the 112th Congress is sworn in, the Republican majority in the House has vowed to try to repeal the law. If its efforts to repeal the legislation fail to pass the Senate, where Democrats still have a majority, or if it clears the Senate and the president vetoes the bill, House Republicans have vowed to cut off the funds to prevent the law from going into effect or at least diminishing its impact.

It is a war where certain battles will be easy, while others will be an all-out fight.

It is likely that some parts of the law will win bipartisan support and be amended, like the requirement for all small businesses to file a 1090 form with the Internal Revenue Service for each person that earns more than $600 a year. Even the president has said that requirement would put an enormous and unwarranted burden on small businesses, and thus probably will be eliminated.

But, for the most part, the fight in Congress will test the strength of both sides.

And polling, like the one released Monday by CNN will provide the ammunition for both conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats in an ideological battle on the role government should have in making health care decisions for all Americans.

For the non-ideological center, it may be a question of what provisions of the law the public likes, and which ones it doesn’t.

The center, however, will soon realize that their choices are limited. Either they agree to a law that requires all Americans to buy health insurance, or the government will not be able to force insurance companies to sell affordable policies to people with pre-existing conditions, or dropping coverage for those who are seriously ill. They cannot have one without the other.

On all three fronts the battle will begin in January. That we know. When will it end? That still is uncertain.


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