|Universal healthcare still possible|
|Friday, 06 April 2012 09:05|
The nine Supreme Court Justices may have already decided the fate of the controversial Affordable Care Act following hearings in March about the law's constitutionality. The country must wait however until the ruling is officially announced in June. But, if expert opinions on the Affordable Care Act hearings are correct, then it seems likely the majority opinion of the Court will vote against the constitutionality of the law.
The bone of contention is whether the "individual mandate" component of the act, which requires Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a financial penalty, is constitutional.
If the individual mandate is ruled unconstitutional, the law could lose a crucial source of funding, which aims to provide healthcare access to some of the 50 million Americans uninsured.
The law has proved particularly beneficial for Black Americans. Since its inception, over 2.4 million Black seniors with Medicare, including over 100,000 in South Florida, have received free preventive services, including diabetes screenings. The law also provides additional coverage for preventive services without extra cost to 5.5 million African-Americans with private health insurance. Plus, about 410,000 young Black-American adults under age 26 gained coverage by being added to their parents' health insurance.
Through the law, increase funding has also been provided to healthcare centers nationwide, serving over 19 million patients, with the potential to serve millions more by 2015.
The outcome of the court's ruling has important short term and long term implications for this crucial legislation that improves the lives of so many. In the short term, a negative ruling could prove a major blow to President Obama's reelection chances, as the current Republican presidential candidates have all used the controversy surrounding this key legislative achievement as political ammunition. On the other hand, a ruling in favor of all aspects of the law would be a boost to Obama.
However, a negative Supreme Court ruling may be advantageous for the act's future. A recent poll conducted by CNN/ORC International shows that the majority of Americans don't want the Supreme Court to completely overturn the law. Sixty-eight percent surveyed wanted the Court to either leave the law as is, or only overturn some sections. Only 30 percent want the law completely overturned. Therefore, if the entire law is ruled as unconstitutional, a public backlash would ensure that the legislation would live on in Congress.
If only the individual mandate is revoked and Obama is reelected, his administration would likely focus immediately on drafting an amendment to ensure that healthcare insurance remains universal, financially viable and constitutional. If the entire law is revoked, creating a mutually acceptable healthcare law would again be a priority of President Obama's second term. Otherwise, the law may not maintain its momentum in a Republican-led administration, due to the strong objections to the principles of government-sponsored universal healthcare among the Republican presidential candidates.
Despite the fears of a possible negative court ruling, hope remains for millions of uninsured Americans to have universal healthcare in the future. But this may depend entirely on the outcome of the 2012 presidential elections.