Local News

Will politics of health care overhaul overshadow legal debate?

Posted March 26, 2012

Map Marker  Find News Near Me

— Some area residents said Monday that they fear the partisan divide over the national health care reform law will overwhelm the debate before the U.S. Supreme Court over its legality.

As 26 states challenge the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the White House is highlighting the 2-year-old law's benefits. In North Carolina, for example, the law has allowed about 75,000 adults between the ages of 23 and 26 to remain on their parents' health insurance policies and has provided discounted prescription drugs to more than 100,000 Medicare recipients.

The law doesn't take full effect until 2014, when the so-called individual mandate kicks in. Under that provision, everyone must have health coverage by then or face a financial penalty.

Critics say the individual mandate is unconstitutional, but Gene Nichol, Boyd Tinsley Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said the Republican-dominated Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, should uphold the law on legal grounds.

"There's nothing in the law of the Constitution, as it's presently pronounced or has been pronounced in the last 50 years, which makes this bill, particularly the mandate, unconstitutional," said Nichol, who participated in a panel discussion at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh about the law.

Still, he said, politics will likely play a role in the court's ruling, which isn't expected until June.

"It has played into the Roberts court decision-making process more aggressively with each year, so it's not sensible to think it won't play a role in this," he said.

Rob Lockwood, a spokesman for the North Carolina Republican Party, said he thinks the Supreme Court will leave politics out of it.

Health care debate mixes politics, legal concerns

"I think the justices understand that this has to be a strictly legal ruling, that there cannot be any sway of politics, and I think they'll do a good job with that," Lockwood said.

Glenn and Peggy Eason, who attended the forum, said they support the reform law because the health care system needs to be fixed. They aren't as confident as Lockwood that the justices will weigh the case strictly on its legal merits.

"I think it is very much about politics. That's too bad," Glenn Eason said.

Thirteenth District Congressman Brad Miller said during the forum that health care reform could help motivate Democratic voters in the November election, but it will be just one issue among many in races.

Lockwood said candidates will address how to contain rising health care costs, regardless of what the court decides.

"As long as costs keep going up, it'll continue to be an issue," he said. "Consumers are looking for any way to reduce the costs, whether it be, like I said, free market on our side or more government involvement (on) their side," he said.

8 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • razzolini80 Mar 27, 2:28 p.m.

    The mandate is not about the insured itself; it is about the rest of the society not having to pay for your bills if you get sick and ended up in a hospital. If you have problems understanding the concept, think that you have to pay car insurance if you have a car. It is not for your own benefit, but to protect others if you are at fault in an accident. It has nothing to do with "freedom of choice".

  • kermit60 Mar 27, 1:42 p.m.

    I've been in the healthcare business for over thirty years and one thing that hasn't changed and never will is the fact that some people will get better care than others. The system could not in any way provide the best care for everyone. The best takes money and it just isn't there. Health care is no different than a car. If you want a new one you have to make the payments and pay insurance. If you choose to spend your money on fancy cloths, cell phone, cable TV, alcohol etc, don't ask me or the taxpayers to pay for your health care.

  • tyauch1 Mar 27, 1:27 p.m.

    Everyone needs to stop burying the real issue. How many do not have insurance but expect to receive healthcare when needed??? Those of us who are insured (even at ridiculous rates) cover the costs of the uninsured. The sad part of the health care reform is that employers are now reducing benefit coverage without reducing costs and the insurance companies are making record profits.

  • short Mar 27, 10:51 a.m.

    I luv the libs.....If the mandate stands.....its a good law.....but if it is trcuck down...its purely based on politics.....not the fact its a bad law.

  • rasengineers Mar 27, 8:39 a.m.

    Whatelseisnew wrote, "Folks, there is nothing wrong with the system itself. Health Care is readily available."

    Health care is readily available at grossly inflated prices to people with good insurance or a small percentage of people who are insanely rich. Even with good insurance, many households are one major illness away from bankruptcy. Health care is already rationed by the insurance companies for those who are not extremely wealthy. The so called "death panels" that opponents of the mandate accused Obama of advocating are already standard practice in the insurance industry. Does the mandate solve the costs issues of the health care industry? No, but it is a step in the right direction for folks who would like to see a free market solution, rather than government provided health care.

  • whatusay Mar 26, 6:58 p.m.

    "Critics say the individual mandate is unconstitutional, but Gene Nichol, Boyd Tinsley Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said the Republican-dominated Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, should uphold the law on legal grounds."

    What planet is this guy from???? Where in the constitution does it say the federal government can force me to buy a product?

    If Obama will make "everyone" contribute to health insurance, I will contribute. But, we know 49% of all Americans pay "ZERO" federal income taxes. Why should I believe those same 49% will pay for their health insurance? I know Obama will force the "evil rich" to pay for those 49%....as usual. That's the problem with Obama Care....most won't pay anything but get all the benefits.

  • whatelseisnew Mar 26, 6:48 p.m.

    "Glenn and Peggy Eason, who attended the forum, said they support the reform law because the health care system needs to be fixed."

    Folks, there is nothing wrong with the system itself. Health Care is readily available. People for some reason think they should not have to pay for health care nor even pay for insurance. Regardless of who pays the bill, YOU, Your Insurer + You, or the Government you will be paying out money. The most expensive solution will be more Government involvement. Government interference has led to a lot of the reasons for higher costs, both of health care and insurance. When you receive a bill from a provider you are paying for the treatment you received plus partially for the treatment others received and either they did not pay or a Government program underpaid the provider. The provider has to get the money somewhere. ObamaCare will in the end lead to rationing and Seniors will end up being denied treatment to save money.

  • working for deadbeats Mar 26, 6:46 p.m.

    Yes. Our supreme court judges are glorified politicians. Hopefully they'll prove us wrong and squash obamacare.