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March 28, 2012

Top Headline Comments 3-28-12

Happy Wednesday.

Today is the Supreme Court's final day of argument on Obamacare. 90 minutes will be devoted to whether the mandate is severable from the rest of the law. Then 30 minutes will go to the issue of the Medicaid mandate imposed on the states.

In my interview yesterday morning with Rep. Phil Roe, the Tennessee congressman said that he believed that this is one of the most important cases since Roe v. Wade and Brown v. Board of Education. Rep. Roe's comment seemed to presage the observation from Justice Kennedy that the individual mandate changes the relationship between the government and the person "in a fundamental way" requiring a "heavy burden of justification." I've now heard Justice Kennedy's comment on the broadcast national news last night, the local TV news last night, the FM radio station I'm listening to as I type this, and the local TV news this morning.

My concern is that Justice Kennedy might just find an extraordinary justification for the individual mandate. That's precisely what the Obama Administration has been arguing: "healthcare is different." That was, by the way, the same language that several congressmen used to explain why their constituents are opposing Obamacare.

Rep. Diane Black explained that people are concerned by the uncertainty in not knowing what's going to hit them next in something so fundamentally important as health care. Rep. Phil Gingrey said that the number one concern of his constituents is that they don't want the federal government to have that much involvement in their lives.

Each of the congressmen I talked to said that either way the Supreme Court rules, more reform is needed. Rep. Wally Herger had the strongest statement on that, vowing "we're not going to stop until we repeal Obamacare." Sen. Ron Johnson suggested that there were many reforms that will help lower costs of healthcare. He cited as examples health savings accounts and opening up the insurance market as much as possible as a free market. Sen. Johnson noted that where the free market fails, for example with individuals who have serious preexisting conditions, the states have seen success with high-risk pools.

Finally, I want to share with you a story from Sen. Johnson I did not know before talking with him yesterday. Johnson explained that he was particularly offended during the Obamacare debate when the President suggested that money-grubbing doctors would unnecessarily "come after your tonsils" or amputate a leg. Johnson explained that his daughter was born with a serious heart condition and that doctors---doctors like the ones that Obama was demonizing---had saved her life after extraordinary efforts. It was, Johnson said, one of the things that impelled him to run for his Senate seat. Johnson noted that, under Obamacare, innovative treatments---like that which saved his daughter---would be limited not according to doctors' decisions, but the decisions of bureaucrats in Washington.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 06:57 AM

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