Obamacare and the Supreme Court

This week the Supreme Court agreed to hear a legal challenge to the healthcare reform law, colloquially known as ‘Obamacare”. They have scheduled 5 1/2 hours for oral arguments, dividing the law into four parts, that they will hold over two days. According to a number of articles, this is pretty much unprecedented in modern history. Since 1970 the typical case is allotted one hour for oral arguments, with 30 minutes for each side.

I’m not a lawyer, but I was astounded by these numbers. I realize that the Supreme Court justices spend a lot of time reading written briefs, and probably have internal discussions, but only spending an hour listening to arguments for an issue that has hit the highest court of the nation does not sound like much time to me. If I have a complicated patient in my office, it’s not so unusual that I end up spending an hour on them, and unless they are going on Hospice, they always get a follow-up visit. The Supreme Court gets about 10,000 petitions a year, and only rules on a small fraction of them. Before it gets to that level, many lawyers and judges have already debated the issues, and if the answer was obvious, it would probably have been settled. It seems stingy to me to only giving one hour for oral arguments for cases at that level.

Even 5 1/2 hours doesn’t sound like much. The 12 members of the debt reduction super committee couldn’t come to an agreement on debt reduction after working on the issue for more than 3 months. That’s far more time than the Supreme Court will spend working on the health care law, and I’m not sure that it’s that much less complex than dealing with debt reduction. Of course the justices have the great advantage of not having to worry about getting re-elected.

About Daniel Ginsberg, MD, FACP

I'm an internal medicine physician and have avidly applied computers to medicine since 1986, when I wrote my first medically oriented computer programs. So yes, that means I'm at least 35-years-old!
This entry was posted in Government, Medical Politics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Obamacare and the Supreme Court

  1. To says:

    Nothing suprises me out of our government.. It seems that everyone is on the take these days. I have also read that Supreme Court Judges have been paid, not in the least, with first class airfare, luxury hotels to give speeches to politically bent and corporate America groups.
    It saddens me that my country cannot figure out a better way to take care of our underprivileged, sick, and seniors citizens. We spend more per person, serve fewer and do not have the baby suvival in the rest of the industrial world. I read a couple years ago, that Dentists earn more that family docs. Now that is a disparity if I ever heard one. At least medical care is growing percentage of my retirement income.
    I worked 50 years for some of the big ones.. IBM, Pan AM, plus twenty years at MultiCare. When CEOs of non profits make millions, and management is stacked with overpaid underperforming VPs,Administraters and Directors it makes me sad. When contractors charged us more for a small fancy compressor than my new 4Runner, at the time, it made me mad. When medication costs far more in this country than Canada or Mexico, it saddens me. When my former physicians office was always overrun, and he was confronted out side the exam room with sales pitches, it made me mad.
    I am saddened that the disparity between the technicians that worked for me, our corporate CEOs and many others keeps widening.
    It saddens me that we have become so greedy we no longer care for our each other. The governemnt and all it representatives are on the take and do not have our interests at heart.
    The greed I have winessed indicates to me that our leaders in Corporate America and the Federal Governemnt do not care all that much about any one that is not handing them a kickback or ungodly salary.
    The Supreme Court will not fix anything— only make it worse.
    .
    Tom Pitts

  2. Will have to agree with Tom Pitts. And as a Family Doc, I can only concur that dentists make more…

    Thanks for highlighting this issue.

    All the best in the New Year!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s