While popular opinion has already coalesced against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the final answer may come soon.
After an unprecedented three days of oral arguments, the nation’s highest court is set to release its decision on the law’s constitutionality. Many Supreme Court experts believe the ruling will come out on Wednesday or Thursday.
During oral arguments, debate focused on four questions.
First is whether the court can even rule on the law at this time due to a 19th century law that states a person must pay a tax before bringing a case to have it blocked. To those who know the court best, it appears that this argument was rejected.
The second question has received much more attention and is central to arguments against the law: the constitutionality of the individual mandate. The question at hand is whether or not the federal government can force a private citizen to enter into a private contract for health insurance. Some have likened this debate to whether or not the federal government can force you to eat your broccoli.
The third question also centers on the individual mandate and is known as “severability.” That is, should the individual mandate be struck down, can any portion of the law remain in place without it? The Obama Administration has argued that if the individual mandate is overturned, the rest of the law must go as well.
The final question, and one I know our state legislators are concerned about, is whether the federal government can force states to vastly increase their Medicaid rolls as this law would. Already a huge portion of their budgets, 26 states including Georgia argued that they would be forced to drop out of the program if they did not agree to absorb as much as half the cost of expansion.
No matter how the court rules next week, this much is clear: Our health care system is in serious need of reform, and Obamacare is not working, having driven up health-care costs and added to the uncertainty plaguing the American economy.
For this reason, I remain committed to repealing the law in its entirety and replacing it with common-sense, step-by-step reforms that bring down the cost of and increase access to health care without growing the size of government.
In enacting such reforms, our primary objective should be ensuring decisions are made where they belong: between a family and their doctor and not among bureaucrats in Washington.
Like many, I anxiously await the ruling but will fight to make sure it is the beginning of a new debate on health-care reform and not the last word.
Kingson serves the 1st congressional district of Georgia.