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Fate of the Rest of the Health Law Unclear

Updated 12:59 pm ET

Reports are varying out of the Supreme Court on whether Justices seem inclined to let the rest of the health bill stand if the individual purchasing mandate is deemed unconstitutional.

Conservatives seem to by lining up against leaving the remainder in place, pointing to Anthony Kennedy as the swing vote on the “severability” issue as he will be on the mandate itself.

From the New York Times:

Justice Antonin Scalia said the whole law would have to go.

“My approach would be to say that if you take the heart out of this statute,” he said, “the statute’s gone.”

Politico reports:

Chief Justice John Roberts asked questions that suggested the whole law could be in danger. He said the mandate is linked to the rest of the law, and that other provisions were added as a way to muscle the bill through Congress, he said, according to the Journal.

Without them, Congress “would not have been able to cobble together the votes to get it approved,” he said.

But Roberts and Scalia also made comments suggesting they were still thinking the matter over.

Kennedy reportedly expressed concerns about the costs to insurers if the mandate alone is struck.

But remember, even the federal government is arguing that if the mandate goes down, it should take with it the law’s requirements that insurers not take into account pre-existing conditions or age in setting rates. The argument is these measures become too expensive for insurers without the guaranteed business that the mandate would provide.

What backers of the law are hoping will stand at least are other new benefits provided by the law, such as the expansion of the Medicare drug benefit, the vast increase in the number of people eligible for Medicaid, and requirements for free preventive care.

Justice Elena Kagan suggested that “half a loaf is better than no loaf.”

UPDATE: Los Angeles Times is reporting likelihood that conservatives would strike down the whole law along with the mandate.

21 thoughts on “Fate of the Rest of the Health Law Unclear”

  1. There shouldn’t be an iota of uncertainty of the fate of the rest of Obamacare should the mandate be struck down. Obamacare doesn’t contain a “severability clause.” Therefore, if part of it goes, it all must go, by proxy.

    If they ignore this, they are still violating the law.

    Never mind the fact that Obamacare was never legally passed by the entire House in the first place

  2. For those that are legal eagles out there I have a question.

    IF (and hopefully when) Obamacare is sent to the dustbin of legislative history, what will happen to parents that have been able to keep their adult children on their healthcare plan? I have a 24 yr. old son who was diagnosed with severe RA and Ankylosing spondylitis, along with Crohn’s disease. His is unable to work due to his illnesses, and has been on his mom’s insurance all this time. He has never filed for disability, something that his mother eschews as it gives the government an inroad into your life, but has been using her insurance to cover the ever increasing costs of medical care.

    If Obamacare is struck down in toto can the insurance companies seek reimbursement for claims filed and paid during the time period that the law was in effect? If the law is found unconstitutional, one might be able to argue that the insurance companies would not and should not have to have paid for any treatments during the laws effective dates.

    Perhaps this is another reason why the left seems to be so blasé with regard to how this case will end. IF tens of thousands of families are suddenly left with massive unsecured debt due to the unconstitutionality of Obamacare and the insurers go after the families for reimbursement of services that were paid under an illegal law, this would give the Progressives another bite at the apple of governmental regulation of healthcare and the insurance industry.

    I can see them making the argument that the government needs to protect these families from predatory practices of the insurance companies, and therefore we are going to put greater restrictions on the insurance industry, and also the healthcare system.

    Don’t count a snake as dead, until the head is chopped off!

    1. Great questions. I don’t think the insurance co can come back for claims paid. However, I think they could sever future payments. The claims were presented in good faith on a current valid law at that time and paid in same manner.
      As for retaining the insurance policy, I think it would fall upon the individual companies to offer to continue the plan, probably at greatly increased costs.

    2. I’m sorry to hear about your son.
      IF the Supremes declare the mandate unconstitutional, it shouldn’t negate the other provisions of the law that were not being ajudicated.
      However, the insurance company might raise your premiums to cover the extra expense to such great heights that it would be prudent to look into SSDisability coverage. It’s there for people like your son, and no one has any issues with it being applied to those who really need it.

      1. I have to use SSI and I wouldn’t be able to survive without this. Don’t
        let the few who abuse disability benefits keep you from getting the help
        you deserve. The intrusion in your life is just something to deal with and
        move on to help your son.

  3. Obama was not planning on a Constitutional challenge to his Ponzi scheme. If the mandate is struck down, we’re left an with an unfundable, unimaginable mess; if it is not struck down, we become indentured serfs dependent on Big Government for our very lives.

    When all is said and done, ObamaCare is nothing more than an expanded version of Medicaid. Unfortunately, ALL of us will become Medicaid dependents – poor quality care and vastly increased costs. Our pets will get better care at the veterinary hospitals! Actually, they already do!

  4. These guys are so desperate!!!

    Axelrod, Ploufe & Obama = BoyDoWe, Cheatem, & How !

    —– Forwarded Message —–
    From: David Axelrod
    Sent: Friday, March 23, 2012 3:30 PM
    Subject: Hell yeah, I like Obamacare
    Friend —

    I like Obamacare.

    I’m proud of it — and you should be, too.

    Here’s why: Because it works.

    So if you’re with me, say it: “I like Obamacare.”

    1. If you’re referring to the 3 Stooges; it was:

      Dewey Cheatem and Howe Attorneys at Law

      On a law office door….still cracks me up!

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  6. We live in an alternate universe when there is even a question in any sane person’s mind that this law is unconstitutional. How far we have fallen as a constitutional republic when our fate as freemen is held in hands of 9 supreme court judges.

    1. She is so wrong that it boggles the thought; it’s not their job to legislate or to allow/disallow provisions of any act brought before them. It’s either right or wrong. period.

      It’s up to Congress to decide what to keep, if anything.

      1. No I’m afraid the whole loaf stinks and is moldy and it all must go. It
        might create a bigger mess if they just remove the mandate I wouldn’t
        be surprised if Obama and his folks are working like crazy to make it
        worse without the mandate.

        1. I know whichever way it goes, it won’t be the same and will be a complete cluster-you-know. Whichever way. This is a timebomb in the heart of America and in June we get splattered.

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