Health Reform Law Court Decision Sparks More Political Maneuvering

As some news outlets cover the fallout from the Florida court decision on the legality of the health law, others examined aspects of the law, including the provision about “mini-med” insurance plans.

The Hill: “Eight Democratic attorneys general have issued a statement defending the constitutionality of the healthcare reform law and vowing to move ahead with its implementation after a federal judge struck it down Monday. The statement reiterates some of the law’s benefits for consumers, and points out that only two federal judges have ruled against the mandate that everyone buy insurance. Two other judges have upheld the law, and 12 have dismissed similar challenges. … The statement will enable the White House and Democratic lawmakers to claim at least some state support for the law” (Pecquet, 2/5).

The Associated Press: “Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, an opponent of the recently enacted health care overhaul, says Justice Elena Kagan should not take part in the widely expected Supreme Court consideration of the new law. … On Monday, a second federal judge declared the law unconstitutional. Two other judges have upheld it. Hatch said he is sure that Kagan participated in discussions about the law and challenges to it while she served in the Justice Department as Obama’s top Supreme Court lawyer. Hatch told Fox News that he believes Kagan ‘should recuse herself,’ although he noted the justice alone will make that determination” (Sherman, 2/5).

Palm Beach Post: “The central question: Is requiring individuals to buy health insurance legal, or does it violate the Constitution? Disagreeing on the answer are four federal judges … The rulings are headed for appeals courts, and almost certainly the issue will go to the Supreme Court. How will the Supreme Court rule and on what grounds? The justices are expected to look at a section of the Constitution called the Commerce Clause. … Professor Elizabeth Price Foley of the Florida International University College of Law says that brief section has taken on an outsize importance in the current constitutional debate” (Lantigua, 2/5).

The New York Times: “It is entirely plausible that when the Supreme Court decides the ultimate fate of the health care law, it will do so along partisan lines, with the five justices appointed by Republicans voting to strike it down and the four appointed by Democrats in dissent. … But some scholars are already wondering how much damage, if any, a party-line ruling striking down the law would do to the court’s prestige, authority and legitimacy” (Liptak, 2/6).

McClatchy/The Miami Herald reports on the “new requirement that businesses report purchases of goods or services of more than $600 from single vendors during a calendar year. … virtually everyone in power, regardless of party or ideology, agrees that the requirement has to go. … The provision, known informally as the 1099 law after the Internal Revenue Service form, was adopted because it’s supposed to raise money. Estimates are that businesses would report more income to the IRS to avoid penalties, so the government would gain about $19.3 billion over 10 years. However, the bills to repeal it provide no offsets for the foregone revenue” (Lightman, 2/6).

The Oklahoman: Jeremy Young, a manager at the O’Reilly Auto Parts store at 4 E Second in Edmond, is grateful to have health insurance through his employer. … But the health plan Young has is under fire because it carries annual caps on benefits that, along with lifetime coverage limits, were supposed to go away this year with health care reform. His plan has a $15,000 annual limit, but other limited benefit, or ‘mini-med,’ plans have caps of $10,000, $5,000 and lower. … Under health care reform, companies with 50-plus employees will be required — starting in 2014 — to offer health insurance or pay heavy fines. Mini-meds — which offer lower costs and risk to employers — won’t meet those requirements, said Rick Farmer, spokesman for the Oklahoma Insurance Department” (Burkes, 2/6).

Politico: Several top Democratic strategists are in the early stages of forming a new initiative to coordinate messaging in support of health care reform, POLITICO has learned. … The messaging effort is designed to counter the Republican momentum to repeal or undermine the health care law. The efforts are in the early stages, according to several sources familiar with the matter, so few concrete details were available, but it will be a public relations initiative focused on the benefits of the law and what repeal would mean for those benefits” (Haberkorn, 2/4). 

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