Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Challenging Times for Health Care Law

The Affordable Care Act (interesting that it's no longer called the Patient Care and Affordable Care Act by the White House) will continue its march toward the Supreme Court this week:
President Obama's healthcare law faces a series of challenges in three appeals courts starting Tuesday as Republican lawyers from 27 states will urge the courts to strike down the law as unconstitutional.

In a sign of the high stakes and the partisan divide, one case will feature a rare courtroom clash between the Obama administration's top appellate lawyer and his counterpart from the George W. Bush administration.

At issue is whether the government can require virtually all Americans to have health insurance by 2014 or pay a small tax penalty. Democrats said the mandate was needed to make sure that all who could afford to do so paid for medical insurance. Otherwise, they said, freeloaders would force hospitals and taxpayers to pay for them if they were badly injured or came down with crippling diseases.

Republicans who opposed the law called the mandate an unprecedented government meddling in private lives. It "would imperil individual liberty" and "sound the death knell" for the Constitution if the government can "compel" people to buy products, Paul D. Clement, the former Bush administration solicitor general, said in a brief last week.
Given the partisan divide, I would anticipate that there will be some cases for, some against, like before. Still, the prequel playing out in Massachusetts warrants heeding challenges ahead if this bill is ultimately upheld:
A new survey released yesterday by the Massachusetts Medical Society reveals that fewer than half of the state's primary care practices are accepting new patients, down from 70% in 2007, before former Governor Mitt Romney's health-care plan came online. The average wait time for a routine checkup with an internist is 48 days. It takes 43 days to secure an appointment with a gastroenterologist for chronic heartburn, up from 36 last year, and 41 days to see an OB/GYN, up from 34 last year.


Keith said...


I thought we Americans never had to wait in line for health care services like those poor Canadians.

Do you have any idea how long it takes to get a CT scan at Stroger Hospital? I am hearing 4-6 months.

We sure don't have to ration care like those Canucks! Or do we just do it more discreetly in terms of ability to pay vs urgency of need.

PS Try to get a patient into the subsidized clinic at your current employer hosptial and see how long that takes!! You have to run the economic credientialing gumut just to get accepted.

Dennis said...

Of course those sitting in the seats of congress and senate want to be seen yesterday if they show symptoms... Royalty?

DrWes said...


It will be interesting to see if access improves or deteriorates further if PCACA is upheld.


Anonymous said...

The primary care shortage has existed for years and is picking up speed in all states, regardless of the percentage of the population that is insured.

The solution obviously is not to cut down on the number of insured lives, but to make primary care a more attractive area of practice for physicians.