Supreme Court Health Care Decision: Obamacare Live Blog

Jun 28, 2012 6:00am
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Our infographic on how Romney and Obama have both been on both sides of the mandate and John Roberts ABC News: Ma'ayan Rosenzweig

The Supreme Court Upholds Obamacare. We’ll be here all day updating with the decision, what’s going on outside the court, what it means for politics, the health care industry and your health care coverage.

Everything You Need to Know About the Decision

The Political Ramifications and Reaction

Read the Decision Here in PDF

Live Updates Start Here -

2:34 – Health Care Law Mandate ‘Tax’: How Many People Will It Affect?

Devin Dwyer explains the reach of the mandate tax come 2014:

The health insurance mandate upheld today by the Supreme Court will impact roughly 26 million Americans, or 8 percent of the population, according to a recent study by the Urban Institute and an independent analysis by MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, who advised both Mitt Romney and President Obama on health care law.

Those individuals will be required to obtain coverage or pay a fine starting in 2014.

1:53 – Rush Limbaugh Weighs In: “Our freedom of choice just met its death panel.”

1:22 – Romney Vows Repeal

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Charles Dharapak / AP Photo

In a new web video, the Romney campaign reasserts what the candidate said earlier, a vote for him is a vote to repeal Obamacare next year.


12:45 – Roberts: Not His Job to “Protect People from the Consequences of Their Political Choices”

Here’s a key quote from the decision by Chief Justice John Roberts, who says the court can’t protect Americans from their political decisions.

Members of this Court are vested with the authority to interpret the law; we possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments. Those decisions are entrusted to our Nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.

12:50 – Terry Moran’s First Reaction to Decision

 

 

12:44 p.m. – John Roberts – Obama’s Best Frenemy

Matt Negrin on the relationship arc that started with Obama opposing Roberts’ nomination to the Supreme Court and has now landed on Roberts saving Obama’s signature accomplishment. Read it here.

12:42 p.m. – What’s Next on Capitol Hill?

ABC’s Jonathan Karl on the possibility of repeal:

 

 

12:22 p.m. ET – A Tax Worth Paying?

ABC Pollster Gary Langer says this about Americans and taxes:

Paying taxes, while hardly a joy, is less uniformly unpopular than is broadly assumed. (Ask Bob Dole, who ran and lost on a tax-cutting platform.) In recent polling, 58 percent of Americans say the federal income tax they pay is “about right” (vs. 36 percent too much), and 56 percent say the middle class in general is taxed appropriately (again vs. 36 percent too much).

Indeed polling has found majority support for taxes when put to good use, i.e., for programs that are popular or perceived as needed. Resistance occurs based on perceptions that the good use of tax revenue too rarely happens – that much instead is unneeded or wasted.

With the Supreme Court’s declaration that the ACA imposes a tax, the poltical debate turns to this: Whether or not it’s a tax worth paying.

12:21 p.m. ET – Obama Makes Consumer Argument

President Obama uses his statement to make a consumer argument that the health law is good for Americans. He says it’s time to move on from the debate over the bill. He says it should be clear that passing this bill wasn’t good politics. But argues that’s not why he did it.

 

 

He mentioned Natoma Canfield, an Ohio woman who was having trouble buying insurance. Here’s our previous interview with her.

 

 

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Image credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

12:18 a.m. ET – Graham Says Americans Were Deceived on Tax Issue

ABC’s Matt Larotonda caught up with Senator Lindsey Graham a few minutes ago. The South Caolina Republican said the issue of the individual mandate has now evolved into one of taxation.

“The American people waking up this morning did not realize they were being taxed by the congress in a historic fashion,” he said.

Graham said democrats’ refusal to refer to the clause as a source of federal revenue was “deceptive.”

“The president said this was not a tax,” he continued, “The democrat who authored the bill said it was not a tax. The Supreme Court said it was constitutional because it is a tax.”

Echoing similar statements by GOP colleagues, Graham would not go so far to point fingers at the conservative-leaning court.

“My beef is not with Justice Roberts,” he said, elaborating that the court had made a “sound” decision purely on merits of the tax issue.

 

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Supreme Court reporters run with the decision to TV cameras just after 10:00 a.m. ET. Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

 

12:00 -How Conservatives Claim Victory – Mandate Unconstitutional, Tax Okay

From Ariane – Here’s an interesting statement from Randy Barnett—he represents the challengers of the law, and was one of the first law professors to question the mandate’s validity. But he questioned it on the Commerce Clause. Note how he is claiming victory here:

“Today’s decision validates our claim that a Congressional power to compel that all Americans engage in commerce was a constitutional bridge too far.  By rewriting the law to make it a ‘tax,’ the court has now thrown Obamacare into the political process where the people will decide whether this so-called ‘tax’ will stand.  And the People will also decide whether future Supreme Court nominees will pledge to enforce the Constitution’s restrictions on the power of Congress.”

11:53 – Romney ‘You Might Imagine I Disagree’

Mitt Romney says in Washington, D.C., with the U.S. Capitol behind him, that he will do on his first day in office what the court didn’t do today. He says the court said it wasn’t unconstitutional. But he says it’s bad policy.

“Obamacare was bad policy yesterday. It’s bad policy today,” says Romney.

“If we want to get rid of Obamacare, we’re going to have to get rid of President Obama,” he adds.

 

 

11:42 – Roberts on the Tax Issue

Ariane points out this quote from Roberts during the oral arguments when he grilled Soliticor General Donald Verrilli  -

“Why didn’t Congress call it a tax then? You’re telling me they thought of it as a tax, they defended it on the tax power. Why didn’t they say it was a tax.?”

Also in one of his very few interviews with the press here’s what Roberts told Jeff Rosen of the Atlantic in 2006:  “If I’m sitting there telling people, ‘We should decide the case on this basis’ and if [other justices] think, ‘ that’s just Roberts trying to push some agenda again,’ they are not very likely to listen very often.”

This is not very good material for anyone who might be writing a book teeing up Roberts against the Obama administration. But then again next term has the potential for some major social issues : affirmative action, gay marriage, voting rights.

11:26 a.m. ET – Color from the Court

ABC’s Serena Marshall was in the court when the decision was read:

Members of Congress and senators in attendance:

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Texas Attorney General, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, the wives of justices Samuel Alito, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli was there.

Paul Clement, who argued the case against Obamacare, was not there.

When Roberts was reading the decision, Justice Clarence Thomas was leaning back in his chair, looked frustrated, and huffed.

Justice Samuel Alito looked like making an effort to keep a straight face.

Breyer was swiveling in his chair…at the end looked visibly pleased

11:25 – Mitt Romney Will Speak at 11:45, 30 minutes before Obama.

11:20 – GOP Statements Avoid SCOTUS

Rick Klein points out: You’ll notice a theme in the raft of statements coming from Republicans. They are upset but NOT attacking the Supreme Court – something they’ve been eager to do for decades on rulings they disagree with.

They are saying it’s more important than ever to repeal the Obama health care law, and expressing disappointment in the decision.

But there’s no talk of liberal activist judges taking the country in the wrong direction – in part, surely, because Chief Justice John Roberts – Bush-appointed chief justice, former Reagan White House lawyer, conservative icon (until today) – authored the opinion.

11:16 a.m. ET – Dire Tweets from Palin, Cuccinelli

Some Republicans are not taking this well.

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cucinelli, a top antagonist of the law who spearheaded some of the lawsuits against it: @KenCuccinelli: This is a dark day for the American people, the Constitution,and the rule of law.This is a dark day for American liberty.

Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin: @sarahpalinusa: Obama lied to the American people. Again. He said it wasn’t a tax. Obama lies; freedom dies.

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ABC's Sunlen Miller tweets, "These 2 men, with a bible in one hand and a copy of the SCOTUS decision in the other, are lying on the ground praying."

11:14 – House Republicans Set Vote to Repeal Obamacare

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has said the House of Representatives could vote as early as July 11th to repeal Obamacare. This is largely symbolic since the president wouldn’t sign it and Democrats control the senate. But symbolism is important. Look for some Democrats will vote to repeal the law.

11:07 a.m. ET – Obama to Speak at 12:15 p.m. ET

Jake Tapper reports the president will make a statement in the East Room at 12:15 on health care reform.

10:52 a.m. ET – What it Means for You

The law is 2,000 pages and the Supreme Court decision is almost 200. But here, in a nutshell, is what today’s news means for you, per Matt Negrin:

The Supreme Court ruling on President Obama’s health care law is complicated, just like the law itself. Today the court said the law is mostly constitutional. Here is what it means for you:

- You have to buy health insurance or be subject to a tax

- If you are under 26, you can get health insurance from the plan your parents use.

- If you’re on Medicare, you can get free mammograms.

- If you have what’s called a pre-existing condition, you can get health insurance.

- Insurance companies can’t deny you coverage even if you get sick and make a mistake on your health insurance application.

10:47 a.m. ET -Lawmakers React, Immediately Disagree

Speaking the senate floor, the Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid says “Our Supreme Court has spoken. The Matter is settled. I ask Republicans to move on. In a video posted and tweeted simultaneously by senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the top Republican says, Today’s decision makes one thing clear: Congress must act to repeal this misguided law.”

10:45 a.m. ET – Liberal Bloc Would Have Gone Further

Ariane de Vogue reports: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg , a reliable liberal on the court, reads from the bench that she  AGREES WITH ROBERTS ON THE TAX CLAUSE BUT SHE WOULD HAVE GONE FARTHER AND FOUND IT CONSTITUIONAL UNDER THE COMMERCE CLAUSE.

“The question the Court must answer is whether the Constitution stops Congress from taking the course it did. I would answer emphatically NO. I agree with the Chief Justice that Congress’ power to tax and spend supports the so-called individual mandate or minimum coverage provision. But I would make that an auxiliarly holding. As I see it, Congress’ vast authority to regulate interstate commerce solidly undergirds the Affordable Health Care legislation. I would uphold that legislation, first and foremost on that ground.”

 

10:33 a.m. ET – The Case Against – 4 Justices Wanted to Invalidate Entire Law

Ariane de Vogues reports from the court:

Kennedy reading the dissent from the bench:

Justice Scalia, Thomas, Alito and I have written a Joint dissent. In our view the Act before us is invalid in its entirety.

It is true that if an individual does not purchase insurance, he or she affects the insurance market to a degree. But the Government’s theory would make one’s mere existence the basis for federal regulation. There would be no structural limit on the power of Congress. As a result, the Government’s theory would change the relation between the citizens and the Federal Government in a fundamental way.

10:22 a.m. ET -Obama in 2009: It’s Not a Tax

Back in 2009 the president told George Stephanopoulos the fee for not having insurance wasn’t a tax. He was adamant on the point. But the law is saved because Chief Justice John Roberts says it is.

Obama to George Stephanopoulos in September of 2009: “For us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase.”

 

 

10:12 – Mandate Effectively Kept -

The decision seems to be this – Roberts says the court Can’t force you to buy health insurance. But they can tax you for not having it.

10:07 – Health Care Decision is in – Mandate Upheld, Kinda – 30 seconds in- Ariane de Vogue says the individual mandate is upheld as part of the taxing clause. Clearly we need to read this more.

We’ll put all the news here.

10:04 – Stolen Valor Unconstitutional

Before announcing health care, Justice Anthony Kennedy reads the court’s decision, 6-3, to overturn a law that makes it a crime to lie about military medals. The court says it violated the first amendment, but suggests Congress could rewrite it.

Read more about the Stolen Valor Act, which has now been ruled unconstitutional.

10:01 – Congressional Pre-Action

From ABC’s Sunlen Miller in the senate:

Moments before the Supreme Court announces their decision on the Affordable Care Act, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said that however the court rules, Democrats stand ready to act.

“If they uphold it, that’s great. If they don’t uphold it, uphold parts of it, whatever it is…we stand ready, willing and able to work to make sure that Americans do have the ability to get health care when they’re sick.”

Speaking from the floor of the US Senate Reid said that Democrats should be proud that they stood up “for the right of every man, woman and child for life-saving medical care instead of standing up for insurance companies that worry more about making money than making people better.”

He concluded by saying that whatever the Supreme Court decided, “we accept that,” and “we will work through that.”

10:00 – The court is in session

9:44 – Michelle Bachmann Gets In

The ardently anti-Obamacare Michelle Bachmann, the Minnesota Republican who based her presidential candidacy primarily on that issue, got in to see the reading of the opinion. She tweeted a picture of herself with her ticket.

It’s unlikely she stood in line the whole time. Even last night there were place-holders in line for members of Congress. More from our Serena Marshall.

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Twitter / @michellebachmann

 

9:40 – Terry Tweets About America

 

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The mood here at SCOTUS is less tense than festive–good-natured, a little wacky. All-American in its earnestness, silliness, idealism.

A full readout of the colorful scene outside the court from our Amy Bingham – belly dancers and duels.

9:35 – Predictions, Please!

We’ll know for sure in 25 minutes, but here are some predictions from policymakers like Nancy Pelosi – 6-3 – law professors like Laurence Tribe – upheld in it’s entirety – and court watchers like SCOTUS blog’s Tom Goldstein. But a survey of former law clerks was down on whether the court would uphold the law.

Read them.

9:15 – Call it Obamacare

Some still say ‘Obamacare’ is a derogatory term. And it was begun by Republicans who oppose the law. But Obama himself has invited supporters to take the term back. If both sides are using it, it should be okay for journalists too.

Obama, in August of last year, said, “I do care.”

 

 

9:12 – Where’s This Case Rank?

Rick Klein Asks – “Where does today rank in #SCOTUS pantheon? 2d tier but high 2d tier, behind Marbury v. Madison, Brown, Plessy, Roe v. Wade, Dred Scott”

Here are 24 Supreme Court cases we suggested very presidential candidate should know.

9:04 – Here’s Obamacare in :60 Seconds

Don’t have time to read the 2,000 page bill and listen to 3 days of oral arguments from SCOTUS? Watch this:

 


8:59 More Characters at the Court – Belly Dancers for a Single Payer System:

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Photo Courtesy: Amy Bingham / ABC News

8:55 What About Romneycare?

Our Elizabeth Hartfield took it’s pulse last week:

It’s important to note that Romney has never taken issue with Massachusetts’s law. He argues that while the law works for the state of Massachusetts, it should not be applied on a national scale.

Some 98 percent of Massachusetts residents are insured, according to the state’s Health Insurance Connector Authority, and that percentage increases among children at 99.8 percent and seniors at 99.6 percent. Another 439,000 residents have gained insurance since before the reform was passed.

The Commonwealth had a lower percentage of non-elderly uninsured residents than the U.S. average prior to the passage of the law. In 2006 the rate in Massachusetts was 10.9 percent, while the average across the country was 17.1 percent, according to the Current Population Survey.The system is not without its flaws. Premiums remain high in Massachusetts. In fact the state has the highest individual market premiums in the country, according to the non-partisan Kaiser Foundation. Currently, per capita health care spending in the state is expected to nearly double between now and 2020- from between $10,000 and $12,000 (the current cost) to $17,872- if there is no intervention, according to figures provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts.

Nevertheless a majority of employers, residents, and physicians in the state have all found the reform to be beneficial.

“Overall the Massachusetts reform has gone very well and it’s done everything it was designed to do,” says Jonathan Gruber, a professor of economics at MIT who worked with both Romney and Obama on their respective plans.

8:51 Wither Romneycare and Oddities of 2012

Noticing some comments about the health care system in Massachusetts. It was a model Democrats used to make the national system. And it was enacted by then-Gov. Mitt Romney.

It’s one of the oddities of 2012 that President Obama is defending an individual mandate – requirement to buy health insurance – that candidate Obama opposed in 2008. And candidate Romney in 2012 is fighting to overturn a national mandate that is based in part on the state individual mandate he signed into law in 2006 as governor of Massachusetts.

8:45 a.m. ET – A Brief History of Obama’s Turbulent Relationship with SCOTUS

President Obama gave a not-so-subtle warning to the Supreme Court earlier this year that upending his health care law would be a constitutional transgression. Some accused him of bullying after that remark. More recently Justice Antonin Scalia said in a recent dissenting opinion on the court’s decision to overturn swaths of Arizona’s immigration law that his mind was boggled by the president’s immigration policy.

But Obama’s rocky relationship with the court goes back to his swearing in by Chief Justice John Roberts in 2009.

Read the entire case of Obama v. Supreme Court.

8:37 a.m. ET – Supreme Court Ruling – A Win-Win for Mitt Romney?

The morning Note is out. Amy Walter and Michael Falcone dissect what the result – no matter what it is – could mean in the 2012 presidential race:

Romney, who earlier this week declared that President Obama’s three-and-a-half years in the White House would be “wasted” if health care reform is struck down by court, outlined two possible scenarios and two possible responses.

“If the Court upholds it — if they say, ‘look it passes the Constitution,’ it still is bad policy and that’ll mean if I’m elected we are going to repeal and replace it,” said Romney, who spoke to a notably energetic crowd of hundreds at an electrical manufacturer. “If on the other hand the court strikes it down, they’ll be doing some of my work for me, I won’t have to repeal it, but I still will have to replace it, and I will.”

In offering his assessment, Romney showed why the Supreme Court’s ruling this morning on the Affordable Care Act could be a win-win for him. If the Court decides the law is constitutional, Romney gets to continue to use it as major Bogeyman in his campaign to defeat Barack Obama. As he previewed last night, he will continue his calls to repeal “Obamacare” between now and November. If, on the other hand, the court rules against the administration, Romney not only gets to say, ‘I told you so,’ (as long as voters are willing to turn a blind eye to his record in Massachusetts) but also gets to put an even finer point on a favorite line from his stump speech — that the president has been a failure.

The Obama administration may have a tougher go of it.

8:24 a.m. ET – Health Care on GMA

George talks to Terry about the consequences from the Supreme Court, Jake Tapper about the politics of health care in 2012. And Terry talks about the “awesome power” wielded on the court by Justice Anthony Kennedy, an independent-minded Westerner with a love of Hamlet.

 

 

8:22 a.m. ET – Faces of Health Reform

Jake Tapper introduces us to the parents of a sick 4 year-old girl from Wisconsin hoping the law is upheld so they can keep insurance. And we also meet a small business owner in Virginia who wants it struck down because he says that’ll help him hire new workers.

 

8:15 a.m. ET – Forget the Court, the Public is 5-4 -

To Terry’s point, the public remains split on the health reform law. Check out the ABC News / Washington Post poll published yesterday morning.

Writes ABC Pollster Gary Langer:

Just 36 percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll express a favorable opinion of the health care law under Supreme Court review. But ratings of the health care system as it currently stands are about as weak, 39 percent favorable. That means that while the intended fix is unpopular, so is the status quo – leaving the public still in search of solutions.

And:

While the law’s popularity is weak, barely more than half, 52 percent, see it unfavorably, including 38 percent who have a “strongly” unfavorable opinion. With key provisions yet to take effect, 12 percent are undecided.

Other polling has indicated that a variety of aspects of the ACA are broadly popular – but that these are outweighed by the unpopularity of the so-called individual mandate, requiring nearly all adults to purchase insurance or pay a fine.

Another difficulty for proponents of the ACA is that dissatisfaction with the health care system now, or with current care, doesn’t boost support for the new law. Among people who rate the current system unfavorably, just 35 percent have a favorable opinion of the ACA. And among those who give a negative review to their own care, the ACA’s popular with just 32 percent.

7:55 a.m. ET – Health Care and the Big Yellow Taxi - Terry Moran

Talking with some of the people outside the Supreme Court this morning – the curious, the neighbors, those who slept out all night to get a seat inside the courtroom for the ruling – I’m struck by something polls show, too: Most people don’t know what’s in this healthcare law.

For millions of Americans, today will be the day they find out what “Obamacare” really is – or was, as the case may be. Kids can stay on their parents’ insurance until 26? Women won’t pay more than men for health insurance? Insurance companies can’t stop paying just because you’re too sick? There are some very appealing things in this law, popular provisions that, for whatever reason, Obama could never trumpet effectively over the Tea Party din.

But today the whole country is paying attention to this law. And the politics of it, ironically, might shift. Remember that Joni Mitchell (or Counting Crows) song “Big Yellow Taxi”? “Don’t it always seem to go/that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone…” Something like that sentiment could be a political factor in the fallout from this ruling, should the Supreme Court strike down the law.

7 a.m. ET – The Assembly Outside the Court - An army of media.

A few young people lined up to get in to hear the ruling in court. Some people have camped out overnight to hear the ruling.

One–yes, one–protestor. A dude dressed as a Minuteman. He is being interviewed. Our Ariane de Vogue saw him yesterday too. Take a look:

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Photo Courtesy: Ariane de Vogue / ABC News

6 a.m. ET – Prep Work – Here’s some things to get you started. Click on the images below for flow charts, infogrpahics, and what the justices have said previously about the legal issues surrounding the ruling.

The Court – Meet the  nine Supreme Court justices who will decide whether you have to purchase health care coverage. Here’s what they’ve said about the health care law in the past. Click below:

 

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Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

 

How could they rule? The Supreme Court has these options by our estimation. They could get creative, but these are the general questions:

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Here’s how Americans get their health insurance:

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- Curated by ABC’s Z. Byron Wolf (@zbyronwolf)

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