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By- Mike Sacks

Posted: 06/28/2012 10:10 am Updated: 06/28/2012 11:16 am

WASHINGTON — The individual health insurance mandate is constitutional, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday, upholding the central provision of President Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act.

The controlling opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, upheld the mandate as a tax, although concluded it was not valid as an exercise of Congress’ commerce clause power. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined in the outcome.

The decision in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius comes as something of a surprise after the generally hostile reception the law received during the six hours of oral arguments held over three days in March. But by siding with the court’s four Democratic appointees, Chief Justice Roberts avoided the delegitimizing taint of politics that surrounds a party-line vote while passing Obamacare’s fate back to the elected branches. GOP candidates and incumbents will surely spend the rest of the 2012 campaign season running against the Supreme Court and for repeal of the law.

Five justices concluded that the mandate, which requires virtually all Americans to obtain minimum health insurance coverage or pay a penalty, falls within Congress’ power under the Constitution to “lay and collect taxes.”

“The individual mandate cannot be upheld as an exercise of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause,” Roberts wrote. “That Clause authorizes Congress to regulate interstate commerce, not to order individuals to engage in it. In this case, however, it is reasonable to construe what Congress has done as increasing taxes on those who have a certain amount of income, but choose to go without health insurance. Such legislation is within Congress’s power to tax.”

Ginsburg, writing separately for the four liberals, said they would have upheld the mandate under the commerce clause too. “Unlike the market for almost any other product or service, the market for medical care is one in which all individuals inevitably participate,” she wrote. “Virtually every person residing in the United States, sooner or later, will visit a doctor or other health care professional.”

Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito joined in a dissent.

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CNN Politics
Political Ticker
June 11th, 2012
08:55 PM ET

(CNN) – Mitt Romney on Monday said he hopes the Supreme Court does the “right thing” and overturns President Barack Obama’s sweeping health care reform.

“Gosh I hope they do the right thing and turn this thing down,” Romney told donors in Atlanta, according to pool reports. “And say it’s unconstitutional because it is.” – Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

– Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

This month, the high court is expected to announce its decision on the legality of the Affordable Care Act, a measure passed by Congressional Democrats and signed into law by Obama in 2010.

While Romney has not recently made comments about the decision, he has long maintained he would overturn the law through an executive order in his first day in office.

“This piece of legislation is bad policy, it’s bad for our health care, and I can tell you if I’m president I’m going to stop it in its tracks on day one,” he said Monday.

Democrats have frequently targeted Romney over the health care issue by pointing to a similar plan he signed into law as governor of Massachusetts in 2006. In his defense, Romney says the plan was tailor-made for Massachusetts residents and he would oppose a federal mandate.

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Truthout Tuesday 5 July 2011
by: Gerald Friedman, Dollars & Sense

Why only a single-payer system can solve America’s health-care mess.

America’s broken health-care system suffers from what appear to be two separate problems. From the right, a chorus warns of the dangers of rising costs; we on the left focus on the growing number of people going without health care because they lack adequate insurance. This division of labor allows the right to dismiss attempts to extend coverage while crying crocodile tears for the 40 million uninsured. But the division between problem of cost and the problem of coverage is misguided. It is founded on the assumption, common among neoclassical economists, that the current market system is efficient. Instead, however, the current system is inherently inefficient; it is the very source of the rising cost pressures. In fact, the only way we can control health-care costs and avoid fiscal and economic catastrophe is to establish a single-payer system with universal coverage.

The rising cost of health care threatens the U.S. economy. For decades, the cost of health insurance has been rising at over twice the general rate of inflation; the share of American income going to pay for health care has more than doubled since 1970 from 7% to 17%. By driving up costs for employees, retirees, the needy, the young, and the old, rising health-care costs have become a major problem for governments at every level. Health costs are squeezing public spending needed for education and infrastructure. Rising costs threaten all Americans by squeezing the income available for other activities. Indeed, if current trends continued, the entire economy would be absorbed by health care by the 2050’s.

Read article at Truthout

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We must destroy Medicare so Charlie Sheen can keep his tax cut

Crooks and Liars- By Brad Reed
April 05, 2011 08:00 AM

So Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who best exemplifies the soulless Randroid bean-counting dweeb demographic, has decided to release his plan to “reform” entitlements this week. As you can imagine, it completely sucks:

Ryan also said that he would propose changing Medicare, the popular health program for seniors, into what he called a “premium support plan” similar to the Medicare prescription drug program. […]

Seniors would be able to pick from a list of private plans competing for their business, Ryan said. Seniors would pick the plan of their choosing, and Medicare would subsidize that coverage.

Children, let’s stop and think about this for a moment.

Do you know why Medicare was established in the first place? That’s right — because retirees had difficulty getting affordable health insurance due to their higher medical liabilities. And of course, even those who could afford such insurance would find their policies rescinded if their care got too expensive — in essence, a private-sector death panel.

So we created Medicare! And it has been one of the most successful government programs of the past century, helping countless seniors get quality care without putting themselves into bankruptcy paying for private insurance. And now Paul Ryan wants to turn it into another corporate welfare scam.

As Ezra Klein notes, this is not going to improve care or really even save money:

The current Medicare program would be dissolved and the next generation of seniors would choose from Medicare-certified private plans on an exchange. But that wouldn’t save money. In fact, it would cost money. As the Congressional Budget Office has said (pdf), since Medicare is cheaper than private insurance, beneficiaries will see “higher premiums in the private market for a package of benefits similar to that currently provided by Medicare.” […]

In both cases, what saves money is not the reform. It’s the cut. For Medicare, the cut is that the government wouldn’t cover the full cost of the private Medicare plans, and the portion they would cover is set to shrink as time goes on.

Hear that, Granny? Your health care is about to be sacrificed at the altar of Aetna and Cigna! I hope you like it!

But hey, not everyone’s doing quite so poorly. Take a look at what Charlie Sheen’s been up to:

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With copyright permission from my friend, Stephen Pitt.

Now The Republicans Are Going After AARP. Do We See A Pattern Here?

Crooks and Liars- By Susie Madrak
March 29, 2011 07:00 AM

My, they really are hypocrites of the highest degree, aren’t they? After all the water they carried for the insurance industry for Medicare Part B, and during the health care debate, they’re going to try to pin AARP with making money on insurance? What happened to their much-loved free market? Guess it only works when the businesses support the Republicans!

I’m not always a fan of AARP (they do provide affordable insurance to people who otherwise couldn’t get it). They did a lot of work to push the Affordable Care Act, and they stand up for consumers on a wide variety of issues.

Bottom line? Even if I didn’t like them at all, the fact that the Republicans have targeted them would make me want to defend them. After all, sometimes the enemy of my enemy is my friend!

Newly empowered House Republicans are getting ready to renew their attacks against AARP over its support for the healthcare reform law, The Hill has learned.

The Ways and Means health and oversight subcommittees are hauling in the seniors lobby’s executives before the panel for an April 1 hearing on how the group stands to benefit from the law, among other topics. Republicans say AARP supported the law’s $200 billion in cuts to the Medicare Advantage program because it stands to gain financially as seniors replace their MA plans with Medicare supplemental insurance — or Medigap — policies endorsed by the association.

The hearing will cover not only Medigap but “AARP’s organizational structure, management, and financial growth over the last decade.”

An embarrassing hearing would not only hit AARP back for its support of the law, but fits in with the GOP’s mantra that the law was written behind closed doors to favor Democratic allies. And policy-wise, it could empower Republicans to tackle Medigap policies, which many conservatives want to reform because they believe they contribute to over-utilization of the medical system by reducing out-of-pocket contributions.

Imagine the nerve of old people actually going to the doctor’s, taking care of their health and extending their lifespan. Shame on them!

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Arizona Budget Cuts Target Potentially Life-Saving Care For Transplant Patients

Reuters- via HuffPost

First Posted: 03/ 6/11 07:05 PM Updated: 03/ 6/11 07:05 PM

PEORIA, Arizona (Reuters) – A pacemaker and defibrillator fitted to carpenter Douglas Gravagna’s failing heart makes even rising from the couch of his Phoenix-valley home a battle.

But it is not congestive heart failure that is killing him, he says. It is a decision by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to stop funding for some organ transplants as the state struggles to reduce a yawning budget deficit.

“She’s signing death warrants — that’s what she’s doing. This is death for me,” says Gravagna, 44, a heavy-set man who takes 14 medications to stay alive.

Gravagna is among 98 people denied state Medicaid funding for potentially life-saving transplants and at the forefront of a harrowing battle over the state’s public finances.

The measure enacted last October by Brewer trimmed spending on Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program, to help close a projected 2012 budget deficit of $1.15 billion.

It eliminated coverage for transplants including lung, heart, liver and bone marrow after weighing the success and survival rates for certain transplant procedures.

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