Posts Tagged ‘federal government’

Is the Affordable Care Act on a Fast Track to the Supreme Court?

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

As Virginia seeks review of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) by the United States Supreme Court, the move hasn’t impressed the Obama administration, which is urging the high court to not allow bypassing federal appeals courts.  The administration feels so strongly about a go-slow approach to sending the law to the Supreme Court for a decision on whether it is constitutional that the Department of Justice has filed a brief stating that they are in no hurry.  The brief notes that “Accordingly, granting certiorari before judgment in this case would not necessarily result in significantly accelerating the Court’s review of the constitutionality of the minimum coverage provision.”

The brief, filed on behalf of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, said “Especially given the imminent consideration of this case, there is no basis for short-circuiting the normal course of appellate review.”  The move was in reaction to Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s efforts to have its lawsuit bypass the appellate process and go directly to the Supreme Court.  Virginia has appealed regulatory amendments implemented by the healthcare reform law, arguing that federal government has surpassed its powers as defined in the Constitution.  Additionally, Cuccinelli says the Affordable Care Act is an issue of national importance that requires Supreme Court’s mandate.  The regulatory amendments include the compulsory purchase of health insurance by citizens, who must pay a penalty if they refuse to comply with the law.

Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal wrote,  “there is no basis for short-circuiting the normal course of appellate review” and the Virginia case may lack sufficient standing.  Additionally, the case challenges the law’s mandate to buy health insurance, which does not go into effect until 2014.  In January, a Virginia federal struck down the mandate and the case now goes to the appeals court level.  In other challenges, a judge in Florida ruled against the whole law; three other federal judges have upheld the law.

Cuccinelli believes that the Supreme Court needs to act quickly to bring balance to differing lower court rulings on the healthcare reform law.  In the unlikely event that the Supreme Court agrees to hear Cuccinelli’s case, it probably would not be considered until the new term begins in the fall of 2011.  The Supreme Court has rarely agreed to hear cases prior to full review by the lower courts.

Americans Aging, Gracefully

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

By 2030, an estimated 72 million baby boomers will make up 20 percent of the population.  Americans are aging and living longer than ever, according to a report entitled “Older Americans 2010:  Key Indicators of Well-Being” compiled by 15 federal agencies.

The full report, which details demographics, economics, health status, health risks and healthcare can be found at a dedicated website.  According to the report, Americans who live to 65 can expected to survive approximately 18.5 additional years, four more years than in 1960. Women who live to 85 can expect to live 6.8 more years and men 5.7 years.  As impressive as those life expectancies are, people living in most of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Costa Rica – and even Cuba — can expect to live longer.

An estimated 39 million Americans were 65 or older in 2008 – approximately 13 percent of the population.  In 2030 – when the entire baby boomer generation will be 65 or older – there will be 72 million senior citizens or approximately 20 percent of the population.  By 2050, the over-85 population is expected to grow from 5.8 million to 19 million.  Healthcare costs for the average senior, adjusted for inflation, rose from $9,224 in 1992 to $15,081 in 2006.  Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for people 65 and older, though at half the rate recorded in 1981 – just 1,297 per 100,000.  Strokes, cancer, respiratory diseases and Alzheimer’s are the next leading causes of death.  Healthcare ate up 28 percent of out-of-pocket spending among the poor and nearly poor in 2006; that compares to 12 percent in 1977.

“Give ‘Em Hell Harry” Tried to Give Americans National Healthcare

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Harry Truman had been Vice President for just 82 days when Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s death catapulted him into the presidency and the spotlight.  One of his earliest initiatives was to propose a new national healthcare program in a November 19, 1945 message to Congress.

Truman argued that the federal government should be a major player in the healthcare arena.  “The health of American children, like their education, should be recognized as a definite public responsibility.”  The most jb_modern_fairdeal_1_econtroversial aspect of Truman’s plan was an optional national health insurance fund, which would be run by the federal government and open to all Americans.  Participants would pay a monthly fee, which would cover all of their medical expenses.  The government would pay physicians who joined the program for services rendered, and reimburse the policy holder for lost wages due to illness or injury.

The legislation introduced into the Senate and House of Representatives ran headlong into the American Medical Association’s (AMA) strong opposition.  “The AMA characterized the bill as ‘socialized medicine’, and in a forerunner to the rhetoric of the McCarthy era, called Truman White House staffers ‘followers of the Moscow party line'”.

Once the Korean War started, Truman was forced to abandon his healthcare bill.  Despite his failure, he successfully brought the issue of healthcare in America to the forefront.  When Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law at the Harry S. Truman library, he said it “all started really with the man from Independence.”