Sunday, April 1, 2012

Health Care on the High Court

By most accounts, President Obama's key legislative victory--the Affordable Care Act--is in grave danger of being struck down by the Supreme Court. After a series of oral arguments that lasted for six hours, the Court will consider the case and likely issue its decision in June. Adam Liptak reports that "the available evidence indicated that the heart of the Affordable Care Act is in peril." It's hard to know what that will mean for the future of partisan gridlock in Washington. There are those who argue that the deal could be much much worse for the GOP later on. If health care costs keep increasing at the same rate, and an individual mandate is declared unconstitutional, the only solution, argues Sahil Kapur on the Talking Points Memo, may be single-payer health insurance.

While it would be an uphill battle to get anything even remotely resembling the Affordable Care Act passed in this political climate, sometimes desperation fosters unlikely compromise. A recent Pew Research Center poll shows that the hearings on the ACA in the Supreme Court may have damaged the image of the Court. Maybe this recognition will lead conservative members of the Court to caution; it might be upheld despite the initial signs. If the Court does strike down the law, however, intense debate will likely ensue once again. James Carville argued that a loss in the Supreme Court could be the best thing for Democrats because it would show how far right conservative ideology has gone. In his view, this would mean an influx of Democratic supporters.

Would a "loss" for President Obama on healthcare mean a win in November? If the Court strikes down the ACA, will our political discourse become even more polarizing? Or, could a fresh start give each side the time and incentive to fashion a solution that everyone can agree on?

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