Health Care and the Supreme Court


Looking Ahead — and Back — at Obamacare in California

The second year of open enrollment for Covered California, the state’s health insurance marketplace, is underway. Scott Shafer of KQED’s Newsroom, spoke with State of Health editor Lisa Aliferis about how enrollment is going this year, including an upcoming Supreme Court challenge. They also looked back at the historic rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

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Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Act

The Supreme Court has ruled on the Affordable Care Act. (afagen/Flickr)

Update 6:42 PM Interview with Nancy Pelosi on Health Care: It was always in the bag

KQED’s Jon Brooks posted a full transcript, audio and some commentary (always fun) about Scott Shafer’s interview with Nancy Pelosi. It’s a great overview of the drama surrounding the Act over the years.

Update 1:47 PM Supreme Court Ruling Could Be Good for the State’s Budget

The LA Times is reporting that “California stands to receive as much as $15 billion a year to extend coverage to millions of the poor and uninsured starting in 2014.” Welcome news after last night which saw Governor Jerry Brown whittling almost $200 million more from the budget before finally approving it.

Update 12:24 PM Open Browser, Insert Foot

KQED’s News Fix blog has a great post up about all the tweets flying around after the decision. Some ill advised ones from public officials. And a slew from disgruntled Americans who don’t like the health care plan announcing they’re “moving to Canada.” Hmmmm.

Update 11:43 AM “The Horse Is Out Of the Barn”

The head of California’s Health Benefit Exchange, Peter Lee, just spoke. He’s been leading California’s efforts to create an online market for health insurance. He long contended it would move ahead regardless, but the mandate for all to have insurance definitely ups its relevance. Lee said his goal was to make an online system that would make buying health insurance as simple as buying a book from Amazon (or almost as simple). He also detailed what this decision means for Californians pocketbooks (or purses as we say in California). Lee also said “the horse is out of the barn,” and unlike what some commentators are saying he believes the Affordable Care Act is here to stay. Continue reading

Local Republican Leader Weighs In: The Discussion is About Taxes Now

Duf Sundheim was the chair of the California Republican Party from 2003-2007 and remains active in the party. He lives in Los Altos Hills, CA. KQED’s Stephanie Martin spoke to him today about his reaction to the Supreme Court decision.

MARTIN How do you feel that Chief Justice Roberts, a fellow conservative, voted to uphold the law?

SUNDHEIM Well I think he really had a lot of things he was trying to address. One was the specific issue of the mandate and the commerce clause. That’s why I think so many people thought the legislation would be overturned. And the fact he was able to make a bridge to find that it was a tax, not a mandate.  I think was very interesting.

I thought the reasoning was a little tortured but I think he was really concerned about the future of the court, the public perception of the court.

So I understand what he was trying to do. Again it’s not a situation where they’re making a decision that ties the hands of the other branches of government. It really transfers to the decision to those two branches. And it’s now up to those two branches to make a decision that’s in the best interest of the people. Continue reading

Health Decision Will Have Big Impact on California’s Ethnic Communities

A sign from a recent health care rally (seiuhealthcare775nw/Flickr)

Health disparities in the state are stark.

“Diabetes affects 13 percent of Native Americans in the state, 11 percent of Latinos, 10 percent of African Americans,” says Ellen Wu, the executive director of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN). “That’s compared to five percent of the white population.”

Wu says there’s a gap in access to care too. That’s why the Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act is such a watershed moment for her.

She says of the three million Californians who will now be eligible for coverage through the state’s health benefit exchange in 2014, two-thirds come from communities of color.

“For example with diabetes … they’ll be able to get screened earlier and prevent it. And when they do have onset they’ll be able to manage their care better and stay healthier,” said Wu.

The same goes for asthma, she said. “We know that for communities of color, they can show up in the emergency room for an asthma attack at higher rates than whites so the free preventive care under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is really, really critical to keeping our communities healthy.”

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OK California, What The Health Exchange Means for YOU

There are the politics and the spinning. There’s the talk of improved health outcomes … and then there is the bottom line. What does this mean for the state’s consumers?

The California Health Benefit Exchangeis the most tangible institution that Californians will interact with as a result of the law. Those newly in the market to buy insurance because of ACA, this is your go to shop.  Officials estimate that’s around 3 million Californians.

“We look forward to making the purchase of insurance through California’s exchange as easy as buying a book on Amazon or shoes on Zappos,” says Peter Lee, who has been working to set up this online marketplace. Continue reading

California Politicians Weigh in on Surprising Decision

A word bubble displays the most prevalent words in Democratic reactions to the Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act.

Responses from California Politicians are starting to roll in.

Here at State of Health we made wordles out of the statements from the Democrats and the Republicans. Can you match the word cloud to the party?

A word bubble demonstrating the most used words used by Republicans in response to the Supreme Court ruling.



A hint: reading through the statements, themes from the Democrats: “great day,” “reaffirms what is right,” “benefits millions.” Themes from the Republicans: “great harm,” “repeal,” “take back the White House.” The Sacramento Bee has a wide round up. Here’s a sampling: Continue reading

Supreme Court Watch: Decision on Health Care Expected Shortly

We’re closely monitoring the events at the Supreme Court. The Justices will enter the courtroom momentarily. The health care decision will likely be the last of those issued today, according to

Someone asked the moderators there why healthcare is being decided on the last day of the term. The answer:

For one thing, it was only argued in late March and it often takes several months to write opinions in complicated cases. In addition, in big cases where there are multiple opinions, it takes a while for the dissents and concurrences to get written. Finally, the Justices often just take as much time as is available to polish their opinions in big cases.

For more on the possible implications for California see this excellent post by KQED’s Jon Brooks and Mina Kim.

Demystifying Questions Around the Supreme Court’s Coming Health Care Decision

Supreme court rules in the Affordable Care Act decision (photo: s_falkow/Flickr)

This morning came and went without a health care decision. One of the experienced lawyers following the proceedings was asked when a decision had ever been so anticipated:

I am pretty sure that the answer … is NEVER. In Bush v. Gore, it all moved so quickly and we didn’t know when we would get a decision.

Barring a highly unusual deferral until the next term, the final health care decision will come out on Thursday morning around 7:00 AM pacific time.

Like all controversial issues this one goes by many names. The law under consideration started life as the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” but was nicknamed “Obamacare” by Republicans. Now some Democrats are trying to reclaim “Obamacare” for their own.

There’s not just a lot of jockeying about the name. The complex legal intricacies have inspired plenty of explainers and Q&A’s around the web today. Here are some of the highlights.

The L.A. Times ran a piece that looked specifically at the legal issues at stake and why the Court could consider this as a tax law case, throwing a wrench in things.

The Washington Post has a blog post aptly titled “Everything you need to know about Obamacare and SCOTUS in one post.”

But if that’s not enough, here’s this consumer guide from Kaiser Health News.