Monday, November 14, 2011

U.S. Supreme Court to Review Legality of Obama Heath Care Overhaul

As is being reported widely across news services today, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments regarding the constiutionality of provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PDF), the 2010 overhaul of U.S. health insurance and one of the major accomplishments of Barack Obama's presidential administration.

A White House photo from 2009, as then President-elect Obama visits with members of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Predonimantly at question is the Act's provision requiring that citizens of the country purchase some form of health care or be penalized with a fee.  Interestingly, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear five-and-one-half hours of arguments for and against the Act -- a length of time not devoted to a case before SCOTUS since 2003's arguments on the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act in the case of McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (Click here for transcripts of that case's Arguments and the Court's Decsion).

Online at the Supreme Court's Web site now are several publications from the case docket, or the materials filed with the court, including several "Petitions for Writ of Certiorari" -- which are petitions for the Supreme Court to evaulate the ruling of a lower court in cases "of such imperative public importance as to justify deviation from normal appellate practice and to require immediate determination" -- and "Briefs in Opposition," which point out "any perceived misstatement of fact or law in the petition" that bears on the issues before the Court, should the certiorari be granted. (See The Rules of the Supreme Court for more details on these terms.)

Embedded above are President Obama's remarks as he signs the Affordable Care Act into 
law (Transcript).  The moment was also notable for Vice President's on-mic comments that
occur about 7:15 into the video.

Whether related to the Court's announcement, or part of an ongoing push by the White House to remove congressional barriers from the passage of additional economic stimuli, a new program was announced today by the adminsitration and the Department of Health and Human Services that ties funding from Affordable Care Act to a "Health Care Innovation Challenge," which grants at least one million dollars to programs designed to "deliver better health, improved care and lower costs to people enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program." 

At the very least, the inititive ties to existing efforts by the Obama administration to better publicize the Affordable Care Act, including the White House's own Web site on the issue and the HHS' Web site.  The Obama White House has always been savvy with its ability to use technology to promote its agenda, such as in this video pointing out heath care statistics just before the Act's passage.

With a Supreme Court ruling likely appearing in June of 2012, its decision and the results of the White House's efforts in promoting the Act could have a major impact on the court of public opinion going in to the 2012 Presidential election.

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