Las Vegas Sun

January 29, 2015

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Sun Editorial:

Moving forward

Partisan divide in country over health care threatens progress

Thursday’s landmark ruling from the Supreme Court upholding the Obama administration’s signature health care policy will unfortunately not quell the political debate that has raged for years. The 5-4 decision will likely only further inflame opponents’ political rhetoric this election year, further dividing the nation.

Although we hope the nation would be able to move forward, we have seen no sign of that happening. Republicans in Congress, along with their party’s presumptive presidential nominee, have vowed to repeal the law. The call for repeal makes a good campaign applause line but does little to improve the nation’s health care system, which needs help.

Republicans in Congress can continue to complain about the federal “overreach,” but the reality is that the court, in a reasoned opinion written by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, found the bulk of the law, including the controversial individual mandate, constitutional and within Congress’ authority.

Not that Roberts’ opinion will change any minds. The court’s minority proved that in its dissenting opinion. It was fierce, at times hyperbolic, and not above taking a few petty swipes at the majority opinion.

The court has been bitterly split along ideological lines in recent years, much like the public. Unfortunately, some members of the court have strayed away from the law and into partisan territory. For example, in the court’s decision Monday on Arizona’s immigration law, Justice Antonin Scalia complained about President Barack Obama’s decision not to deport children brought here illegally. Scalia had no business weighing in on that from the bench. That wasn’t an issue in front of the court — Obama’s decision was announced months after the case was submitted.

Judges are supposed to consider the facts and the law for the case at hand, but the health care case also brought out the partisan side of some of the justices. Hearing arguments earlier this year, some of the conservative justices ridiculed the law, even suggesting that “Obamacare,” the derisive name used by opponents, could allow lawmakers to force people to eat broccoli. Such complaints are right out of Congress, and the political spin in the court has been an ominous turn. The dissent seemed more perturbed about the wisdom of the policy than the legality of it.

Roberts, however, wrote that because the law was constitutional, it was “not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.”

“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,” Roberts wrote. “Those decisions are entrusted to our nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It’s not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.”

But that didn’t stop the dissenting justices from complaining about the policy and challenging the court’s majority and logic, saying it had carried “verbal wizardy too far, deep into the forbidden land of the sophists.” In the court, those are fighting words, and it’s a shame to see the court dissolve into such vitriol.

Of course beyond the court, the entire debate has been tainted by a sense of meanness. Some of the law’s opponents have all but turned their back on the plight of millions of Americans who couldn’t either afford or find insurance. Even those with insurance have found that it may not amount to much — an injury or illness can quickly send a family into bankruptcy. But instead of attacking the issues, including affordability and access to care, opponents have merely launched political attacks.

The court’s ruling is important. The Affordable Care Act is far from perfect, but it’s a step toward improving health coverage for Americans. Congress should be working to improve it rather than kill it.

• • •

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  1. It is often difficult for people to accept change. Given a chance, often very good things come out of change.

    The nation needs to come together in support, and work for a really great single payer national health plan that will finally gain control over runaway costs of healthcare in our country.

    The ACA will offer an new sense of freedom for many people who are effected in many different ways.

    Ideologies over people is bad politics, policy, and is many times unjust in an effort to obstruct progress that benefits the majority of people.

    My 45 years in healthcare gave me a vision of the truth. That is why I am hopeful for the ACA and many improvements in the future.

  2. One small step for poor Americans who can't afford health care and one giant step for socialized medicine in the USA.


  3. Exactly, and well stated, "The court's ruling is important. The Affordable Care Act is far from perfect, but it's a step toward improving health coverage for Americans. Congress should be working to improve it rather than kill it."

    Now that it has been determined it is "Constitutional" we need to move forward and fix what is wrong or harmful to most Americans towards better healthcare and delivery of it. Everyone agrees there are problems within it that needs to be remendied, including President Obama. Our health should not be a political party issue. It is a huge part of our pursuit of happiness guaranteed in our USA Constitution and Bill of Rights. We should all be working TOGETHER for betterment, not having a political party planting a victor's flag on the peak of the issue.

    Our government is woefully broken in its behaviors, because it has ceased to serve, We the People, and has served, Us the Corporation. Corporations are in the business to make PROFITS. People are in the business of living a quality life. Today's government has lost sight of that. The saying goes, "You cannot serve two masters."

    We all agree the ACA is not perfect. It is now a starting point where we can progress from to mold it into our vision of what is a success by the efforts of everyone.

    Blessings and Peace,

  4. We don't define progress as making more people dependent upon government programs.

  5. Mitt Romney and the GOP can use the Supreme Court decision on the Health Care Law to their advantage in the November elections. How? Simple. Who better to revise, revamp and reform the Health Care Law than Mitt Romney the originator of unviversal health care coverage in Massachusetts.


  6. Carmine- "One small step for poor Americans who can't afford health care and one giant step for socialized medicine in the USA."

    On the positive side, given that the only thing we are #1 in the world in healthcare is the treatment of cancer, I think those "socialized medicine" countries that are ahead of us are doing fairly well.

    Even though the current healthcare system regurgitates over the thought, in time, the next generation will be fully on board.

    Sometimes, there needs to be change as part of an evolution for the common good.

    That is the way life is. It is a garden of seeds that develop into beautiful flowers for a bouquet we can appreciate.

    It take caring gardeners to pull the weeds, fertilize and water. Sometimes they create new variations.

    How we look at things can be the difference between an experience of looking at flowers in a book and smelling the fragrance of a real bouquet in our hands.

    Fear and dread keeps one at a distance and unable to smell the fragrance of a real bouquet of flowers.

  7. "The poll today on Obamacare is 46% in favor and
    46% against, dead even."


    How many times do I have to tell you? A poll of the White House staff doesn't count!


  8. In 1980, the Department of Education..Costs large amounts of money, contributes very little funding to state/local schools..Has unlimited regulatory powers..Education Improved? NO..And NO
    In 2001, the Department of HomeLand Secutity..Costs large amounts of money, contributes very little funding to state/local law enforcement, has unlimited regulatory powers (Patriot Act) Liberty or Securityy improved?..NO..And NO
    Obama bought the pig, you will pay for it..Will it improve health care? NO and No

  9. I don't see what all the fuss is about..I don't care for Obama for a lot of reasons but on this issue I think he's right..Why do we have to be the only industriaized country in the world without a national health plan? Countries like the UK,Canada,Switzerland,Germany,Isreal and many others have it and their life expectancy is no less than we have and in some cases it's longer..I would like to know that if I come down with a serious illness I wouldn't be financially wiped out because my insurance only covers up to A B or C..I'm all for it and it's about time..

  10. Thank you, Vidi, for that fine list of ACA benefits to our citizens.

    An indirect benefit is that people will no longer be stuck in a bad job with bad wages or other bad conditions because they need the insurance coverage which may not be available or be subject to pre-existing conditions elsewhere.

    Resulting from my lifetime career in many facets of the healthcare industry, I will keep repeating, we need a single payer national healthcare plan for all to achieve true control of runaway healthcare costs.

    Those who wish to spend additional money for a secondary private healthcare system would have that choice, but not at the expense of the majority of citizens.

    While the ACA is a beginning, it is not perfect. There is still too much involvement by the insurance & pharmaceutical industries in protectionism as well as other insufficiencies.

    Giving so much control over to the healthcare industry to determine what a government program will do is not the best solution.

    That is why the ACA is only an initial entry into true reform. It must evolve into what will accomplish the goals of providing citizens with healthcare security in an economically affordable sustainability. This will require adjustments as the ACA experience is implemented in full and produces experience.

    It is within the capability of public and private interests to make this a workable benefit. Experience in other countries is not without difficulties, but committed and serious representatives who can limit their ideological prejudices can truly work to find a solution.

    What is necessary is to see citizens as an asset rather than drain. It requires valuing people over profit.

    We need to embark on this path with and intent for the common good, rather than for the good of business at the expense of people. This will help both in economic terms, without the imbalance that currently exists.

    Finally, with movement toward preventive medical care, we have the opportunity to change not only the healthcare industry, and healthcare needs, we also gain cost controls that currently are not part of the system as much as it could be. These changes are beginning to appear, but have to be addressed even more to change the mentality of all sides of the healthcare issue. I see that as a potential positive direction that the ACA could take as it evolves.

  11. "It's called "Google" Carmine. Try it, you might learn something."

    I do and I have. But thanks for the advice anyway. Like I always said and will again for your benefit: The only poll that counts is the one on Nov 6, 2012.


  12. Common sense can lower health care costs but paying more to insurance companies won't help at all. Medicaid needs to be cut back or eliminated. As a step towards self-sufficiency perhaps Medicaid (and insurance companies) should provide for nurses or physician's assistants to be the primary contact for clients--so they can suggest basic personal care and hygiene for those who don't know any better. And they could resolve many issues--such as most cases of acne in teens. If the taxpayer is gonna pay for any and every time someone doesn't feel real good, we're all heading towards insolvency.

  13. "The posters on this board want to know....."

    Well, let's wait until Nov 6 to find out! Don't put the horse before the cart.


  14. IT'S TIME! Time to recognize what the richest and the poorest in the nation have in common, a need for return of general fairness. That which allowed for loss of our democracy also allowed opportunity to gain great wealth and power to those whose desire for such blinded their need to consider consequences of their actions leading to uncertainty, which when combined with unfairness creates a road dangerous for all citizens to travel.