Elections 2012: Barack Obama Waits Tensely For Decision on Health Law

This week all eyes are on the U.S. Supreme Court, which is widely expected to rule on President Barack Obama’s controversial health care reform law.

President Obama, speaking about health care at a 2009 event in Raleigh, N.C., has expressed confidence that the Supreme Court will uphold his health care law. Photo: Chuck Kennedy/The White House

The Supreme Court could uphold the Affordable Care Act, probably by postponing a decision.

It could also strike the law down in its entirety. Or it could strip away key provisions, especially the law’s controversial individual mandate — the requirement that every American obtain health insurance, according to The Commercial Appeal.

According to the recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, fifty-six percent of americans are against the healthcare overhaul and 44 percent favor it.

The exception to the popular provisions is the “individual mandate,” which forces all U.S. residents to own health insurance.

Reuters reports that sixty-one percent of Americans are against the mandate, the issue at the center of the Republicans’ contention that the law is unconstitutional, while 39 percent favor it.

However, support for the provisions of the healthcare law was strong, with a full 82 percent of survey respondents, for instance, favoring banning insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

At the same time, sixty-one percent are in favor of allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26 and 72 percent back requiring companies with more than 50 employees to provide insurance for their employees.

Meanwhile, president Obama’s most profound policy achievement was at much higher risk of defeat than his aides had expected, vulnerable to being erased by the margin of a single justice’s vote, writes The New York Times.

If the president loses both his law and re-election, many people will conclude “that he bet on his major reform, and the Supreme Court defeated it, and he lost his hold on the presidency,” said Robert Dallek, the presidential historian.

Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has promised to repeal the law if he defeats Obama, although he has not offered a plan of his own.

The president, who says he modeled the measure on a healthcare plan Romney passed as governor of Massachusetts, has defended it.

In the meantime, CNN reports that Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s senior adviser and close family friend, told a group of black journalists Saturday that the administration is prepared for the court’s decision.

“The Affordable Care Act is a very important piece of legislation that we spent a great deal of time crafting,” Jarrett said, but, pointing to legislation on fair pay for women, tax cuts for working families and college tax breaks, she added, “he had a lot more going on than the Affordable Care Act.”

Republicans are persuading voters to reject Obama’s reform even when they like much of what is in it, such as allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26.

Jarrett admitted that the administration was out-maneuvered by Republicans in the months following the law’s passage, as the other side turned up the drumbeat to repeal what they called “Obamacare.”

“The opponents of it out-organized – in terms of the ‘death panels’ – and distorted what we were doing early on.”

The poll found that a great number of Americans – including about one-third of Republicans and independents who disagree with the law – oppose it because it does not go far enough to fix healthcare.

Seventy-one percent of Republican opponents reject it overall, and 29 percent feel it does not go far enough, while independent opponents are divided 67 percent to 33 percent.

Among Democratic opponents, 49 percent reject it overall, and 51 percent wish the measure went further.

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