White House Mobilizes Healthcare Reform Supporters

March 20, 2012
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In meetings at the White House, the Administration moved to engage supporters as the debate begins before the US Supreme Court…


 

In meetings at the White House, the Administration moved to engage supporters as the debate begins before the US Supreme Court…


Not surprisingly, the White House seems to be beginning a full-court press in support of the new healthcare reform initiative which passed in 2010.  The moves by the White House come in advance of the approaching Supreme Court arguments, which will be hearing arguments on all of the lawsuits filed by various opponents of the law.  I’ve been following those arguments over the last several months and making the point that Obama’s signature legislative achievement will finally be getting a thumbs-up or thumbs-down notice from the Supremes – most likely in June 2012.

Last week, the White House pulled together leaders from over 60 nonprofit organizations that have strongly backed the healthcare reform initiative for a planning session on how best to coordinate efforts.  Based on media reports, plans call for a prayer vigil, press conferences and other events outside the Supreme Court when the Supremes begin the oral arguments beginning on March 26th – two years and three days following the successful passage of the landmark legislation.  These meetings have come in the wake of calls by advocates that the Administration needed to take a stronger position in defense of the new program.  I’m sure that the White House, however, is weighing how many issues it can focus on at the same time.  After all, they’ve got the economy, the Middle East and the Arab Spring, which is sweeping the region, the upcoming Presidential campaign and how best to position an Obama re-election campaign, among a host of other pressures.

As we’ve noted previously, the Supreme Court is hearing arguments from 26 states which have filed briefs that the individual mandate is unconstitutional.  The whole issue is not only a Supreme Court issue, but is also evolving as a rallying cry in many of the states from candidates who are attempting to unseat their Democrat colleagues from across the aisle.

While the public opinion have vacillated somewhat, there is clear opposition among Republicans and some independent voters in key election battleground states across the nation.  In particular, the individual mandate is held out as the primary reason for lack of support among the American public.  I fully anticipate that while demonstrations may be important for the elections and the general public, the ability to sway the Supreme Court through this approach seems highly unlikely.

The long and short of all the activity is that we will have a decision one way or the other by the end of June, and the Supremes will be the final voice on the structure of the healthcare reform package.  If they support the individual mandate and a couple of other provisions, it’s clear that the US is headed in an entirely new direction, which will greatly alter the landscape of healthcare delivery.  If they do not support the individual mandate, it may be back to square one for the insurance piece.  Although many of the other initiatives are likely to move forward such as the health information exchanges, changes in requirements for health plans and the like.  We will be keeping a watchful eye as the debate continues…