Friday, March 23, 2012

Next Week's Blog -- Health Reform in the Supreme Court

Dear Readers:

If the Supreme Court could set aside 6 hours for oral arguments in the health reform case -- the longest argument in over 45 years -- then I certainly can change the "rules" for this blog during the oral arguments, which start on Monday. So rather than doing my usual news round-up each morning, I will spend my time trying to stay as up to speed as possible about not only the arguments themselves, but the circus that will surround the Court in what is the most important case for people with chronic illnesses EVER.

As you know, the focus of the court case is the individual mandate -- the requirement that everybody purchase insurance. However, for those of us with chronic illnesses, the most important part of the law is the requirement that, as of 1/1/2014, insurers have to cover people with pre-existing conditions. But the two are tied together. In states that have outlawed pre-existing condition exclusions without an individual mandate, lots of sick people bought insurance, which drove up premiums, leading healthy people to leave the pool, increasing premiums even more. In fact, the Obama Administration has asked the Court to strike down the pre-existing condition provision if it strikes down the individual mandate.

Thus, if the individual mandate falls, so, too, does coverage of people with pre-existing conditions. And that includes every single person in America with a chronic illness.

So over the next week, I will bring you the best information I can about what's going on at the Supreme Court, along with some analysis that I hope will help make the arguments clear enough for non-lawyers. If you have questions, please post them as comments and I'll try to answer them as best I can. And keep in mind that we will not know for sure where the Court is going until we see the decision. What happens at oral argument -- which Justices ask which questions -- doesn't always provide as clear an idea of where the Justices are going as some reporters think. So take it all with a small grain of salt.

To read my op-ed about the case, go here. Some time between now and when arguments start on Monday, I'll post a primer on the case so you will understand what's going on.

And hope against hope that we with pre-existing conditions don't lose the most important legal protection we have ever had before it even takes effect. Jennifer


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