Nov 26 2012
The United States Supreme Court today reopened a lawsuit brought by Liberty University against the Affordable Care Act, on the grounds of the law’s individual mandate. The lawsuit had earlier been dismissed by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals on technical grounds. According to Liberty University, the mandate violates religious freedom.
As deadlines for implementing parts of the Affordable Care Act approach, several states are opting out of the Medicaid part of the law. A recent Supreme Court ruling invalidating mandatory Medicaid expansion has prompted at least 8 states, including Florida, Alaska, and Oklahoma, to sidestep a crucial aspect of what’s called Obamacare.
Under the law, every one whose income falls below 133% of the Federal Poverty line will have to be covered by Medicaid, which is currently a federal program that all 50 states are participating in. The main point of contention over the expansion is the economic impact it will have on already cash-strapped states. Adding to the problem is a new study showing that if states do opt out of the Medicaid expansion, the premiums of those who have private insurance could actually go up, simply because the overall costs of healthcare will go up.
Another crucial aspect of the Affordable Care Act on the verge of implementation, are state-by-state online health insurance exchanges. These exchanges will theoretically enable individuals and small businesses to shop for better bargains in the private health insurance marketplace. A number of states including Louisiana, Texas, and Wisconsin have declared their refusal to participate in the exchanges.
The goal of both the medicaid expansion and the online exchanges is to enable full health insurance coverage of all Americans. Currently nearly 50 million Americans lack health insurance.
The Affordable Care Act has been the bane of the Republican Party since it was passed in 2010 – repealing it was a major part of Mitt Romney’s Presidential platform. Now, with Obama’s reelection, Republican House Majority leader John Boehner is hoping to weaken the law by making it part of negotiations with Democrats over the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Boehner said last week “If we’re serious about getting our economy moving again, solving our debt and restoring prosperity for American families, we need to repeal Obamacare and enact common-sense, step-by-step reforms that start with lowering the cost of health care.”
Meanwhile, Obama’s reelection and the subsequent viability of the healthcare law has prompted some private retailers to claim their costs would go up with the implementation of Obamacare. Applebees, Papa John’s and a restaurant chain called Darden’s are using the law to make a case for worker layoffs and price increases.
GUESTS: Jeffrey Young, Healthcare reporter at Huffington Post, Clark Newhall, Executive Director of Health Justice