Right-wing media have reacted to the Supreme Court's ruling upholding President Obama's health care law by claiming it is "a dark day for freedom" and "the end of America as we know it." But the decision allows the health care law to implement reforms that will protect and extend affordable insurance coverage to millions of Americans.
Right-Wing Media Claim Supreme Court's Health Care Decision Is "The End Of America As We Know It"
Breitbart.com's Pollak: "The Supreme Court Has Made A Wrong Decision, For The Wrong Reasons, In Defense Of A Wrong Policy." In a June 28 post on Breitbart.com, editor-in-chief Joel Pollak claimed that if the health care law is not repealed following the Supreme Court's decision, "our health care system will be ruined, our Treasury bankrupted, and our Republic endangered." From Breitbart.com:
More broadly, Americans' confidence in the judiciary will be damaged by this decision--as much as by Bush v. Gore. Liberals have long believed the Court is merely a political institution. For conservatives, it will be difficult not to see the Court a political institution whose rules and culture are hostile. It is now customary for Republican appointees to become more left-wing over time; the reverse almost never happens. The answer cannot be to win more elections. A bigger shift, in the legal academy perhaps, will be necessary to restore what conservatives consider the Framers' constitutional vision. And that could take generations.
The Supreme Court has made a wrong decision, for the wrong reasons, in defense of a wrong policy. If citizens do not rush to the polls to undo what has happened--and after today, I am not certain that they will--our health care system will be ruined, our Treasury bankrupted, and our Republic endangered. [Breitbart.com, 6/28/12]
Fox's Starnes: "A Dark Day For Freedom." During the June 28 edition of his "Fox News and Commentary" radio segment, Fox News Radio's Todd Starnes reacted to the Supreme Court's decision by claiming that "we are now living in occupied America" and telling "freedom-loving Americans to mobilize and reclaim our nation." Starnes headlined a post accompanying audio of the segment "A Dark Day for Freedom." From Starnes' "Fox News and Commentary" radio segment:
We are now living in occupied America. The supreme court ruled today that the federal government has the right to force you to buy health insurance. A ruling that jeopardizes religious liberty, and will force a massive new tax on the American people. Sixty percent of the nation believes that mandate is a violation of individual rights. It's time now for freedom-loving Americans to mobilize and reclaim our nation. [Fox News Radio, 6/28/12]
Breitbart.com's Shapiro: "This Is The End Of America As We Know It." In a June 28 post to his Twitter feed, Breitbart.com editor Ben Shapiro wrote that the decision to uphold the health care law "is the end of America as we know it. No exaggeration." From Shapiro's Twitter feed:
Fox's Palin: "Obama Lies; Freedom Dies." Fox News contributor Sarah Palin reacted to the Supreme Court's decision by claiming "freedom die[d]." From Twitter:
In Fact, The Health Care Law Protects And Extends Coverage To Millions Of Americans
HHS: Health Care Law Ends Lifetime Limits For 105 Million Americans. According to a report by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Affordable Care Act will end lifetime benefit limits for 105 million health care consumers. From Health and Human Services:
The Affordable Care Act prohibits health plans from imposing a lifetime dollar limit on most benefits received by Americans in any health plan renewing on or after September 23, 2010. While some plans already provided coverage with no limits on lifetime benefits, millions of Americans were previously in health plans that did not.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation's Employer Health Benefits Survey, 59 percent of all workers covered by their employer's health plan in 2009 had some lifetime limit placed on their benefits. In addition, 89 percent of people with individually purchased coverage had a lifetime limit on their benefits.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimated the number of Americans receiving these new protections, combining results from the 2009 Kaiser employer survey and 2009 America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) report with data from the 2009 to 2011 versions of the Current Population Survey (covering calendar years 2008-2010).
Overall, we estimated that 70 million persons in large employer plans, 25 million persons in small employer plans, and 10 million persons with individually purchased health insurance had lifetime limits on their health benefits prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act. These 105 million Americans now enjoy improved coverage without lifetime limits.
Among the 105 million Americans for whom lifetime limits have been eliminated as a result of the Affordable Care Act, 75.3 million are non-Latino White, 11.8 million are Latino, 10.4 million are African-American, 5.5 million are Asian, and approximately 500,000 are American Indian or Alaska Native (Figure 2). Approximately 28 million of those benefiting are children, with the remainder of the 105 million split almost equally between adult men and adult women. Approximately 15.9 million individuals lived in rural areas, with the remainder in urban areas. [HHS, March 2012]
The Hill: "About 86 Million People Took Advantage Of The Healthcare Reform Law's Prevention Benefits For Medicare Beneficiaries." A February 15 post on The Hill's Healthwatch blog reported that 86 million people have already benefitted from the Affordable Care Act's preventive care measures, citing reports from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Department of Health and Human Services. From The Hill:
About 86 million Americans took advantage of the healthcare reform law's prevention benefits for Medicare beneficiaries and people with private insurance last year, the Obama administration said in two reports released Wednesday.
One report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that an estimated 32.5 million -- almost three out of four -- Medicare beneficiaries took advantage of the law's coverage of prevention with no cost sharing last year. These include 6 million mammography screenings, 2.8 million bone mass measurements and 1.2 million pap tests -- all of which were previously subject to deductibles or co-payments.
Another 54 million people in private insurance are estimated to have taken advantage of the law's expanded coverage of at least some preventive services, according to a report from the assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). These include pediatrician visits, cancer screenings and immunizations. [The Hill, 2/15/12]
USA Today: "More Than 3.1 Million Americans Ages 19 Through 25 Are Covered" Because Of Health Care Law. A June 19 USA Today article cited a HHS report that found that "3.1 million Americans ages 19 through 25 are covered by their parents' medical insurance policies because of a provision in the 2010 health care law." From USA Today:
More than 3.1 million Americans ages 19 through 25 are covered by their parents' medical insurance policies because of a provision in the 2010 health care law, the Department of Health and Human Services is expected to announce today.
That's up from 2.5 million in December. About 75% of people in that age group now have insurance, up from 64% in 2010, records show.
It also adds healthy people to the insurance pool should the court strike down just the part of the law that requires people to buy health insurance, said Ron Pollack, founding executive director of Families USA, which supports the law. [USA Today, 6/19/12]
Families USA: "The Affordable Care Act ... Will Provide Tangible And Measurable Relief To American Families." In an October 2011 report, Families USA found that the Affordable Care Act "when fully implemented, will provide tangible and measurable relief to American families" and will "slow the growth of underlying health care costs." [Families USA, October 2011]
Huffington Post: The Affordable Care Act Is "Already Providing Widespread Relief To Some Americans." An April 3 Huffington Post article pointed out several "consumer benefits that would disappear if the whole law were to be ruled unconstitutional":
Many provisions of the Affordable Care Act took effect when it was signed into law in 2010, and a full repeal would eliminate reforms that are already providing widespread relief to some Americans. Here are some consumer benefits that would disappear if the whole law were to be ruled unconstitutional:
Increased coverage of preventive services
Many health insurance plans are now subject to new rules that require them to cover recommended preventive services without charging a co-payment. As a result, consumers pay nothing for services like routine screenings, vaccines, counseling, flu shots and well-baby and well-child visits from birth to age 21.
Coverage for children with pre-existing conditions
Under the new law, insurance companies cannot deny coverage or limit benefits to children under age 19 because of a pre-existing condition or disability. Starting in 2014, people of all ages with pre-existing conditions will be protected.
Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan
Adults who have been refused insurance coverage because of pre-existing conditions and who have remained uninsured for at least six months are eligible for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. The program covers primary and specialty care, prescription drugs and hospital visits without requesting higher premiums for pre-existing conditions. [The Huffington Post, 4/3/12, emphasis original]
Mother Jones' Serwer: As A Result Of Health Care Reform, Children "Cannot Be Denied Coverage Because Of A Pre-Existing Condition." In an April 12 Mother Jones article, Adam Serwer noted that "[m]illions could be hurt if the Supreme Court scraps health care reform." Serwer used the case of Marla Tipping, whose 14-year old son has a pre-existing condition, to point out the impact repeal of the health care law could have on Americans:
Tipping says her family has had "to be absolutely vigilant in never having a lapse in coverage ... because many carriers would never carry you with a preexisting condition again."
That was the case before the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Now, children like Cam cannot be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition. (Similar protections for adults are set to start in 2014.) While Tipping says she and her husband still pay between $20-25,000 out of pocket every year for costs their insurance won't cover, the ACA at least guarantees that they'll be able to find some kind of policy for Cam, even if they are forced to leave their current plan.
Most of the speculation over the fate of the Affordable Care Act has focused on the individual mandate and what the decision could mean for the 2012 presidential election. However, if the Supreme Court decides to throw out large parts of the law along with the mandate, Tipping's family is one of millions that could lose the benefit of provisions that are already in place. [Mother Jones, 4/12/12]
NY Times: Health Care Repeal Could Jeopardize Funding For Several Beneficial Health Programs. A June 21 New York Times article noted that the health care law included funding for several health care programs and health care delivery center improvements that would be in jeopardy if the full bill were repealed. From the Times article:
By the end of June, the court is expected to decide whether some or all of the Obama administration's health care law is constitutional. While speculation has focused on how the decision would affect the future of the nation's health insurance market, little attention has been paid to the tens of billions of dollars in federal money appropriated for a host of other provisions in the law.
If the court strikes down the entire law, many experts are skeptical that lawmakers will go ahead with funds for programs like the new Prevention and Public Health Fund, even if they are completely distinct from the controversial aspects of the law seeking to overhaul the insurance markets.
"I have no confidence that Congress will turn around and adequately fund the public health system," said Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, which represents people working in public health. The federal law sought to remedy years of underinvestment, he said.
The fate of programs like the federally financed state pools for people who cannot get private insurance that were expected to end as soon as the full law went into effect in 2014, when insurers would be required to cover everyone, is also unclear.
About 70,000 people have enrolled in these programs. About $1 billion has been spent so far to help subsidize their coverage and an additional $4 billion has been authorized under the law to keep the programs until 2014. [The New York Times, 6/21/12]
Health Care Expert Kevin Pho: If Health Reform Is Struck Down "Not Only Would The Uninsured Lose, So Would Other Constituents With Health Insurance." In a June 17 post on The New York Times' Room for Debate blog, health care blogger and primary care physician Dr. Kevin Pho noted:
If the individual mandate is struck down, health insurers cannot feasibly offer insurance to all patients unless they charge patients with pre-existing medical conditions significantly more than healthy patients. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the number of Americans remaining uninsured would be 40 percent higher -- 16 million people -- without the mandate than with it, and insurance premiums would be 15 percent to 20 percent more.
If health reform is struck down in its entirety, however, not only would the uninsured lose, so would other constituents with health insurance, like the elderly. One of the unsung benefits of the Affordable Care Act is Medicare's Annual Well Visit exam, which has been offered since 2011. Thanks to these visits, which I perform every day in my primary care clinic, I have the opportunity to evaluate seniors for their risk of falling, screen for depression and ensure preventive services like vaccines and cancer screening are adhered to.
Furthermore, health reform has already helped seniors save money. In 2011 alone, nearly 3.6 million Medicare beneficiaries saved $2.1 billion in prescription drug costs. A total repeal of law would not only hurt the uninsured, but would deny seniors benefits they already receive. [The New York Times, 6/17/12]
Health Care Law Reduces Federal Budget Deficits Now And In The Future
CBO: Health Care Reform Lowers The Deficit By More Than $100 Billion. In March 2011, the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation issued a joint report saying that "[o]n net, CBO and JCT's latest comprehensive estimate is that the effects of the two laws on direct spending and revenues related to health care will reduce federal deficits by $210 billion over the 2012-2021 period." The CBO subsequently determined that the Obama administration's decision to indefinitely suspend implementation of the portion of the Affordable Care Act that enacted the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act lowered the deficit savings of the Affordable Care Act by $83 billion. [Congressional Budget Office, 3/30/11, 10/31/11]