Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Would even Nostradamus be stumped about outcome of health care reform law?

People love making predictions. Foretelling the Supreme Court’s decision on the constitutionality of the individual mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is no exception.

If you relied on CNN’s legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin’s assessment of the case just after oral arguments back in March, most likely you’ve predicted the entire law is going down. Toobin said the arguments were “a train wreck for the Obama administration” and that the law could be in “grave trouble.”

Or take a look at the predictions on where 54% say the individual mandate is unconstitutional.

Further, InTrade indicates there’s a 61% chance the Court will rule the mandate unconstitutional before December 31, 2012. You can even buy or sell “shares” based on whether or not you think this event will occur. (That’s a bit disturbing to me, but like I said, people love making predictions, and they really love the possibility of making money off those predictions. Never mind the possibility of losing money!)

But others have a more tempered approach. “While predictions about what the Court will decide are highly sought after, they are generally meaningless. The Court will make a decision this term, probably in June, and we will move forward after that point,” Kathryn Bakich, Senior Vice President and National Health Compliance Practice Leader at The Segal Company, said in an interview with Wolters Kluwer.

Bakich continued, “Nevertheless, many commentators predict a six-to-three vote in favor of the mandate, with Chief Justice Roberts joining a five-member majority consisting of Justices Kagan, Breyer, Sotomayor and Ginsberg plus Justice Kennedy. Justice Kennedy’s vote is key to sustaining the validity of the mandate, but his questions during oral argument did not give comfort to supporters of the mandate, as he sharply criticized the government’s points and indicated he was looking for a principle by which to limit the government’s authority to regulate commerce.”

No matter which way you think the court will rule (please comment on this post and let’s discuss it!), a lot of work continues on implementing the law as we continue to wait for the Court’s decision (expected in late June). In the meantime, if you insist on making predictions on this or any other future event, I have a Magic 8 Ball you can borrow.


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