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Health Care Bill Signed: Let the Lawsuits, Violence and Finger-Pointing Begin

Health Care Bill Signed: Let the Lawsuits, Violence and Finger-Pointing Begin

Yesterday, President Barack Obama signed health care reform into law. As Mike Lillis explains in the Washington Independent, the bill now proceeds to the Senate for reconciliation. The whole process could be complete by the end of the week. Republicans and their allies have already moved to challenge reform in court.

Legal challenges

The fight is far from over, however. Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly notes that Republicans have already filed papers to challenge health care reform in court. The Justice Department has pledged to vigorously defend health care reform, according to Zach Roth of TPM Muckraker.

The legal arguments against health care reform center around the constitutionality of an individual mandate, i.e., the requirement that everyone must carry health insurance. This argument is specious. The bill characterizes the mandatory payments as a tax, and imposes a fine for those who don’t pay their insurance tax. There is no question that Congress has the authority to levy taxes in support of the general welfare and providing health insurance to the people easily meets that legal criterion.

Dave Weigel of the Washington Independent reviews some of the other formidable legal barriers to challenging health care reform in court. But take heart, teabaggers! Birther-dentist-lawyer Orly Taitz is on the case.

Violent outbursts from reform opponents

Some anti-reform activists have resorted to intimidation.  Five Democratic offices were vandalized in the days surrounding the House vote, as Justin Elliott reports for TPM Muckraker. Someone hurled a brick through the window of the Niagara office of Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the chair of the powerful House Rules Committee.

Slaughter is notorious on the right for drawing up the controversial “deem and pass” strategy for moving the bill forward. Her plan was never put into action, but she has become a target anyway. Another Democratic office in Slaughter’s district was damaged by a brick bearing a quote from conservative icon Barry Goldwater: “Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice.”

Elliott notes that a conservative blogger in Alabama is doing his best to incite similar attacks, though it’s not clear whether he instigated any of the original five:

…Blogger Mike Vanderboegh has been tracking the breaking of windows at Dem offices after issuing a call Friday: “To all modern Sons of Liberty: THIS is your time. Break their windows. Break them NOW.

Reproductive rights take a hit

Anti-abortion extremist Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) failed to get his ultra-restrictive abortion language inserted into the health care bill, but the final bill does impede health insurance coverage for abortion.

For example, those who choose abortion coverage will have to write two checks: One for their regular premium and one for a dollar to go into a separate abortion coverage fund. Many analysts fear that the extra hassles will discourage private insurers from covering abortion at all.  Pro-choice activists were in a weaker negotiating position because, unlike Stupak and his allies, they weren’t prepared to kill health reform if their demands weren’t met.

The greater good?

Now that health care reform is safely signed into law, the pro-choice movement is stepping back and asking itself some tough questions.

In The Nation, Katha Pollitt argues that the pro-choice movement deserves to be rewarded for sacrificing its own agenda for the greater good. She suggests that the Democrats could reward the reproductive rights movement by fully funding the Violence Against Women Act, addressing maternal mortality and other policy changes to advance women’s health and freedom.

Jos of Feministing counters that with their go along to get along attitude pro-choice groups have only demonstrated that they can be ignored with impunity: “You don’t get rewarded for demonstrating a lack of political power, you get further marginalized.”

At RH Reality Check, Megan Carpentier argues that national pro-choice organizations like NARAL and Planned Parenthood ceded their leverage too easily. While anti-choicers were beefing up their lobbying presence in Washington, major pro-choice groups were scaling back. Pro-choice groups compromised early and easily, perhaps because they were overly confident that their service to the Democratic cause would be rewarded in the end.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint.

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thanks to wili_hybrid via flickr for the pic!
By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

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69 comments

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4:11PM PDT on May 5, 2013

When you pass something without reading it. Exempt yourself from it and are unaware of the costs. There is going to be backlash

9:03PM PDT on Apr 10, 2010

Ok , for those of you too stupid to see this from a clear perspective let me try something else. This is the situation. If someone from government came to you today and said, you have no choice but to buy this brand new pickup truck, and i don't care if you can afford the payments, your gonna buy it. would this be ok for you? if they then said you must buy the blue one with power windows ,even if you don't want power windows. would this also be ok for you? this is what our government is trying to do to us. and then they are also saying that it matters not if you can afford this medical coverage, your gonna be fined 750 the first offense, and more each time you violate this order. Now ,think about your grandmother, who lives on a set income and has no extra money, but is forced to buy insurance anyway, so she either must starve or lose her home because of it. is it ok to put your grand mother out on the street cause the insurance companies want to make billions more each year?
and don't think they intend to stop with this violation of your freedoms . they are already working on a bill to force you to put your hard earned retirement money into an annuity that will maybe pay out 2 to 3% a year when you can close your eyes and chose a stock that returns 3 times that much.no choice here either, you will transfer your retirement money to this new plan.

1:37PM PDT on Apr 2, 2010

"Any country that can spend trillions on killing other people's children thousands of miles away and destroying entire nations, can certainly provide medical care to every one of its citizens." I am so with you, Deborah!

11:05AM PDT on Apr 1, 2010

Obama and others are referring to this law as "health insurance reform" not "health care reform." The PR surrounding the bill - including a huge banner behind Obama reading "reform for the middle class" (or something to that effect) did not even posit the pretense that this "reform" will help poor people in any way. And it is poor people who are in the greatest need of medical, including dental, care. Just as the "cash for clunkers" program benefited the auto makers, and thereby harmed the poor who have far greater access to reasonably priced used cars and used car parts, this law was designed to benefit insurance companies. Many poor children will lose their Children Health Plan benefits as their families struggle to try and buy medical insurance now. I recently learned that, luckily, those of us who cannot afford yet another bill, can opt out of this new program on the basis of inability to pay and/or religious beliefs. And once again, it will be the poorest of us who will disproportionately support this program via an increased tax burden. Any country that can spend trillions on killing other people's children thousands of miles away and destroying entire nations, can certainly provide medical care to every one of its citizens.

3:20PM PDT on Mar 31, 2010

I am so sorry that happened, Morgan. Ironically, I was ill and in the hospital w/o news during most of the debates, and cannot focus on reading the text. I was so happy that everyone was going to get help that I didn't understand stuff like what you are saying. I'll keep you in my prayers that something will work out for you. Again, I am sorry.

3:11PM PDT on Mar 31, 2010

Oh, and if you think AT&T is playing some kind of a game, then YOU come up with a legal way for them to reverse that billion dollar charge they took against their current earnings. I'm sure they would love to see it. But the law and the standards just don't allow it. They were hurt and hurt badly by this law, precisely because they were giving me a benefit, and the only way out is for them to stop giving me that benefit.

3:07PM PDT on Mar 31, 2010

Oh, and if you think AT&T is playing some kind of a game, then YOU come up with a legal way for them to reverse that billion dollar charge they took against their current earnings. I'm sure they would love to see it. But the law and the standards just don't allow it. They were hurt and hurt badly by this law, precisely because they were giving me a benefit, and the only way out is for them to stop giving me that benefit.

3:01PM PDT on Mar 31, 2010

They're doing it on the backs of the retirees of this nation.

That bill is costing me my retirement prescription health benefits that I worked 30 years to earn, because it repealed the tax deduction that made those benefits possible. My former employer, AT&T, had to take a BILLION DOLLAR charge against earnings as a result, and they will almost certainly be cutting out that benefit as a result. That's not a foreign corporation, and it's an action that is REQUIRED by Accounting Board standards. THEY HAD NO CHOICE but to book that loss. And you can't expect any corporation to continue a program that's going to cost them an extra billion bucks on top of what they had already budgeted for it. That's just not realistic. This is clearly the fault of the law, NOT of the businesses who are following the law.

No wonder that that stinking weasel President could say during the debate that I could keep my current health care plan if I wanted to. He knew damned well that the tax changes he was going to put through in his legislation would destroy my plan, so there would be nothing for me to keep.

I voted for a Democratic candidate for President for the first time in my life in 2008. That was the biggest mistake of my life, and I will NEVER make the mistake of voting for a Democrat for any federal office again.

2:44PM PDT on Mar 31, 2010

I see today by listening to CNBC that many of our global companies (no longer American) are saying they will write off millions in losses because of the new health care insurance reform act. I view this as an attempt to get Joe Blow to point even more fingers at the Obama government and side with the very organizations, the businesses, that like to slap us all down and squeeze every dime they can from us. Meantime, the big businesses are giving the lunatic fringe of the GOP lots of dollars to fight Obama at every turn. Do I think some of this is racial? Oh, yes, indeedy it is!

11:04AM PDT on Mar 31, 2010

The HCR bill is being attacked as unconsistutional. The Militia Act of 1792 clearly REQUIRES every free able-bodied white male citizen between the ages of 18 and 45 (those ages meant something then!) to "Provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet, two spare flints and a knapsack, a pouch with box therein to contain not less than twenty-four cartridges suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball, or with a good rile, knapsack, shot-pouch and powder horn. Twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle and a quarter of a pound of powder'

The Founders saw no Constitutional barrier to a law ordering every citizen to buy a gun and ammunition. Then how is health care reform unconstituional?

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