Michiganders divided on law reforming health care as Supreme Court takes up challenges [Detroit Free Press]
|By Patricia Anstett, Detroit Free Press|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
News and views: Court should uphold affordable health care
Sunday business: Job killer or job creator Businesses need help, but is the health care reform law the solution?
On Monday, the
The law, the signature piece of legislation in the president's administration, will require most Americans without health insurance to buy coverage by 2014 or face penalties. It would also expand
Some of the changes have already been implemented since the bill was signed into law on
"It's a once-in-a-generation case," said
Among those following the case will be
Others, such as
Opponents of the federal law "don't understand there are people like me who, without this plan, would continue to be in extreme pain, causing more and more damage to my body and possibly shortening my life," Sferlazza said.
Much at stake for Michiganders in
Detroiter Arlyssa Heard, 41, hopes her health holds out for two years.
That's when she expects to have health insurance for the first time in several years, through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
"Being without health care at this age scares me," said Heard, a college graduate who lost her insurance when she was laid off from her job as a youth specialist for the
Heard and her two sons, 16 and 6, live frugally on a small wage she gets as a
Whether Heard will get insurance by 2014 may hinge, at least for now, on a
To some, the law is one of the most significant reforms of the century in health care, as important as the creation of
But opponents see the law as an ominous step toward Socialism and higher deficits.
The biggest focus in the debate is the law's requirement that most people purchase health insurance by 2014 if they are not covered by an employer, or pay penalties. The penalties start at
"At a time when America has had its longest recession since the Great Depression, what's the answer coming out of
Schuette said "it would be dangerous to have the law in effect because you would penalize people by fining them if they do not purchase a product. This is an excessive reach by the federal government."
Schuette said the court has not allowed this much time to hear a case since the landmark 1966 Miranda v. Arizona decision, in which the justices held that police must advise people of their right to an attorney before they can be questioned.
Still, even if the mandate to buy insurance is unprecedented, it doesn't mean it is unconstitutional, said
"The fact that
Bagley said he believes the mandate is constitutional because it is essential to the success of the new insurance exchanges states must set up to help people buy more-affordable policies. Having everyone buy insurance helps spread the cost of care over a broader pool of people, especially since insurers will have to cover people with pre-existing conditions and be under scrutiny to limit rate increases to no more than 10%.
Americans are nearly divided on what the
A poll released
But U.S. Rep.
"The reality is, this act already is working for seniors, for children and the disabled," Levin said. He pointed to dozens of provisions that have helped, including free prevention services for children and seniors, and the elimination of insurance company denials to children with pre-existing conditions.
Patient, consumer aid
The expanded coverage for children alone has let 57,527 young adults in
"I don't care if you are liberal or conservative," said
Proponents of the federal law say the American health care system sorely needs to rein in rising costs, as well as cover the nation's 49.1 million uninsured people, including 1.1 million in
In fact, many people think the federal health care law doesn't go far enough, said
"In 2011 alone, premiums for family coverage rose almost 10% on average," Farmer said. "If this went away, all it would do is put us back on a faster track towards an unsustainable bubble of growth in health care increases that will return to the rapid death spiral of job losses and erode competitiveness."
Some of the more popular consumer features that proponents hope will reduce insurance costs include controls already under way through the new law to limit rate increases and new spending limits on insurance company salaries and administrative costs. Consumers can now track data for administrative spending and proposed rate hikes through the website of the
Consumers will receive rebates by
Other features of the law expected to gain consumer support are bans on higher insurance rates for women, which can add as much as
About 1,009 hard-to-insure Michiganders, including
The coverage costs Sferlazza
"You can't beat it," Sferlazza said of her current policy.
The insurance paid for physical therapy and back surgery last year that Sferlazza, a disabled
Opponents of the law say universal care elsewhere is costly and creates rationing and long waits for care, as occurs in places such as
Others worry it will hurt businesses and cause job loss at a time when many businesses still are mired in the effects of the recession or just beginning to rebound. By 2014, businesses will pay tax penalties if their workers drop workplace insurance coverage to purchase what could be more-affordable, but more limited, policies through state exchanges.
"The more people are finding out about it, the more they are shaking their heads," said Upton, who said he finds widespread opposition to the law in his
The bottom line: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act just goes too far, said Hyder and his attorney,
"One of the problems is we frame everything as a right," said Muise, co-founder of the
"If it's a right, on what grounds?" Muise asked. "Are we our brothers' keepers? Should we provide for people in our families and neighborhoods? Yes, I think we should. We have a moral obligation. But to say you have a legal right to have somebody else pay for your health care, there's just no basis for that claim."
More Details: Founding fathers had their an individual mandate, too
Muskets, wheat and the Affordable Care Act. Yeah, there's a link.
While some are revolted that the federal government might force individuals to buy a product, it's not without precedent.
The Second Militia Act of 1792 ordered every citizen to have a "good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet or belt" and ammunition, in case the U.S. was attacked.
And during the Great Depression, the
"It's exactly the same issue as someone saying, 'I can take care of myself. I can self-insure.' ...The times have changed, but the issue is the same," said
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