March 27th, 2012
08:06 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Readers go back and forth as Supreme Court mulls health care law

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

As the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments about President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, our readers are making some arguments of their own. Some are even protesting. Comment below and share your thoughts and ideas about health care.

Supreme Court divided over health care mandate

We've been hearing from several readers, including a bunch of iReporters, about this measure.

"We need universal health care," says Matt Sky of New York. He suggests the insurance companies have a conflict of interest when treating people. Jannet Walsh of Murdock, Minnesota, says she likes the law in theory but is unsure that people will be able to pay for it. Houston, Texas, resident Vera Richardson says we're already required to purchase auto insurance, so why not health insurance?

Some, like Mark Ivy of Farmersburg, Indiana, suggested leaving health care programs to the states.

k3vsDad: "I say no to this being a federal mandate. To me this is a violation of the 10th Amendment. This is an issue that should remain with the states. The states have a much better handle developing health care programs tailored to their citizens. One size does not fit all. Every time the federal government overreaches, it is never better, but worse. Give health care back to the states."

Egberto Willies of Kingwood, Texas, says he believes Obama's plan was a compromise, and he might even like to see it go further.

"I am of two minds. Sometimes I want the mandate struck down in order to speed up how soon we will ultimately get Medicare for all (single-payer health care). But then given the lack of congressional competence, I then revert back to doing this in pieces starting with the current bill."

These two comments represent the debate pretty well.

IndyHoosier9: "This is about health care costs. Right now, if a person goes to the hospital and does not have health insurance, they get treated and the rest of us pay for it (in our health care costs). So it comes down to two options: either require health insurance by everyone, or tell hospitals not to treat anyone without health insurance."

tp16: "This is certainly one of the most crucial decisions the Supreme Court will make in determining the power of the federal government. This administration and its Justice Department have had to resort to every sort of stretch imaginable to try to justify [this]. What the administration wants to do is to impose a tax without the political liability of calling it a tax. This president has taken a swipe at individual rights, under the guise of the collective good, purely to save face."

Another story generated a different sort of conversation about health care. Three-year-old Violet McManus suffers from seizures that threaten her breathing.

The Supreme Court, health care reform and one little girl

Her parents are worried the Supreme Court could restore lifetime limits on Violet's insurance coverage. She was quickly approaching the $5 million lifetime limit on her insurance policy before health care reform. Readers had lots to say about both sides of the issue.

Phange: "I am a medical student with a Master of Health Administration degree. I can say this, without a doubt. Both sides, top to bottom, are dead wrong about health care.

DEMOCRATS – Insurance isn't/has never been the problem. ... (The law is) like putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg. It fixes a problem that doesn't exist, thereby increasing the likelihood that the main problem (a complete oligopoly of price controls within the provider marketplace) will continue.

REPUBLICANS – We currently have the most expensive health care system in the world. ... I would know, I work in it every day. A true fiscal conservative would immediately recognize that we need a radical change in hospital and provider regulations if we are to have any hope of changing course.

The bottom line is that neither of you actually care about health care. You've turned one of the most important humanitarian fields into a political game."

This reader supports the measure.

SoCaliBB: "I was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 9 and underwent two years of chemo. I have since then been diagnosed with two additional health scares in my life and I"m still in my 20s. Thankfully, I was either under my parents or my own health insurance and hardly had to pay the treatments because I had good coverage. I HATE to think what a person or family would go through if they had no insurance. It's very gut-wrenching and devastating if you think about it. I'm willing to pay more in taxes, insurance co-pays, whatever if it means that others get the same type of treatment and health opportunity as I have."

This comment comes from someone who opposes the law

Peshwar: "Let's cut the sob stories over health care. This debate is not about emotional issues. It is about the constitutionality of forcing American citizens to have to purchase health care or face a penalty. It is about nothing else!"

If a child is sick, how do you pay?

Crystal N: "My daughter is profoundly affected by this law. Like Violet, she's 3. However my daughter got an infection that turned septic at a week of age and almost died. Either the sepsis or the antibiotics that saved her life (or both) caused a kidney to fail. At 10 days of age she had a stroke. She could have hit the cap in her lifetime, particularly if she needs a transplant in the future. The pre-existing conditions issue would have determined her career path and major in college because her first priority once we couldn't cover her would have been insurance. The ACA gives her a future."

Randy Darrah: "So us taxpayers should have to pay for your daughter? I hope your daughter recovers and gets the help she needs, but why is it my responsibility to pay for it?"

Some other readers talked about the portions of the law that bothered them.

Opinion0731: "Most people will agree that there are a handful of provisions in Obamacare are good. The problem is that there is a lot more bad in the law then there is good. Putting a sick child on the headline and making it and sound like overturning Obamacare is a personal attack on this little girl. I agree that the problems with health care need to be addressed, but a 2,500-page law that is filled with a lot of costly provisions isn't the solution."

sporty53: "Actually, it's the other way around. More good than bad. I have yet to hear more than three things Republicans don't like in this bill."

sdpianomom:
"1. It pays for abortions
2. It doesn't include tort reform
3. It forces all Americans to purchase insurance sometimes against their will
4. It requires religious institutions to fund procedures or medicines against their religious beliefs
5. It is adding trillions to the national debt; we simply can't afford it
6. It does not allow for the purchase of insurance across state lines which would create greater competition and lower prices."

What do you think? Do you have ideas to fix the health care system? Should health insurance be required by law? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or send us a video comment via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (346 Responses)
  1. Jim456

    I am surprised that such a civilized country does not have proper health care for their people

    March 28, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Southerner01

      We have great health care. The absolute best in the world. Anyone who says otherwise is just spewing propaganda.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • THE MOST PHONY DEMOCRACY ON EARTH

      You said you're surprised that "such a civilized country doesn't have proper healthcare for its people?" You're mistaken because we're very far from being civilized! Perhaps you aren't very farmilar with our American history?

      March 28, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. gg

    no insurance -no care,period

    March 28, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Frank Ewing

    Having lived in Sweden at one time, spent time in Canada and knowing others in the UK and France I can say that we MUST have a form of National Health Care, not INSURANCE! Insurance IS, THE ASSUMPTION OF RISK FOR A PRICE, therefore, it EXCLUDES the most risk it can to maximize profits!....If you create a LARGER POOL, through whatever mechanism, you provide LESS RISK, MUCH LESS and the cost of care actually drops as economies of scale kick in and costs are more carefully contained. My wife, with TWO Ivy League degrees was hit by a car 16 years ago, brain damage and four experimental knee surgeries later, she STILL cannot get health insurance! Yet today I hear these self-centered people and companies bashing this nation's first possible reality of having a national plan....Let's do what Sweden did and have a National Plan AND Private Care....those that want to pay more are welcome to the private option and the rest can have coverage.....the result, we will be healthier as a nation, live longer, have LESS long-term costs and Emergency Room use AND be able to compete better in business too, costing business LESS also!.....the only losers are those who would stand to profit immensely by keeping things the way they are....ironically, many of them would do better in the long-run with a National plan!......

    March 28, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kam

      I am very sorry about what happened to your wife. I totally agree with you on the fact that Healthcare needs to be nationalized like Sweden or Canada.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lizzie

      Ok, let's have insurance like Europe, everyone who works gets insurance, you pay 2/3 the employer pays 1/3, if you unemployed you still pay. You have 2 different insurances one for office personnel and one for workers. Sounds good.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lizzie

      Kam, you also would like the taxes Sweden pays.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • CrewMom

      How is it that our elected representatives don't want the American people to have the same level of health coverage that we are paying for them to enjoy?? BTW – did you know that after 5 years, they enjoy these healthcare benefits for life – that's why Gabby Giffords waited until after she hit her 5 yr anniversary before she resigned her seat. And yet here is someone who will require years of therapy and special care, care that would put a serious strain on those of us who have an average healthcare policy. What's wrong with this picture.....

      March 28, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fernandez

      Agreed. Anyone against universal health care REALLY MUST look at how it is done in the rest of the modern world. Ask any Canadian what they are most proud of – and will fight till the dying end for – and it is health care... Stop lining the pockets of middle men and insurance companies and take care of ALL of your people. Save money somewhere else

      March 28, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • RowJimmy

      Go back to Sweden

      March 28, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • toxictown

      Yes, this is the only thing that will work.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Southerner01

      So your argument in favor of national health insurance is that you want someone else to pay for your wife's care? How about no, man up and pay for it yourself.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nat

      It's true most Canadians are very protective of our healthcare system and we it saddens us when our neighbours can't seem to move forward to a more fair and affordable system. That even the suggestion that change is needed is seen as un-American somehow.
      The people that post about high taxes etc really aren't good at math. You add up all the costs of living and the people in countries that have higher taxes and univeral healthcare come out ahead. Standard of living is higher in these countries and the " happiness" measurements are higher since no one I know is worried about losing a home or any savings etc on a big medical bill.
      Our system is far from perfect and is under attack by the same forces that are trying to prevent change in the U.S. We have one thing in our favour though and that is experience. We know which way not to go. A lot of peopel in the U.S. don't understand how our system even works. They are surprised to learn that doctors, clinics etc are private. It's the billing and paying that is government run.

      March 28, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kam

      @Lizzie – I am a healthy young working professional and I pay for my health insurance. I am paying a huge sum of money to a private insurance for my health care. I would rather pay it towards Universal Health care and if it's going to cost me more than what I am paying now, which I am sure it wouldn't and if it did I am pretty sure it wouldn't cost me much more than what I am paying already, I would more than happily pay the difference via tax. I think that no one should be denied insurance because of a preexisting conditions or anything of those sorts. Sorry I have little bit of a heart and don't just selfishly think about myself all the time.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kam

      @Lizzie – I am a healthy young working professional and I pay for my health insurance. I am paying a huge sum of money to a private insurance for my health care. I would rather pay it towards Universal Health care and if it's going to cost me more than what I am paying now, which I am sure it wouldn't and if it did I am pretty sure it wouldn't cost me much more than what I am paying already, I would more than happily pay the difference via tax. I think that no one should be denied insurance because of a preexisting conditions or anything of those sorts and that's the reason I support Universal Health Care. Sorry I have little bit of a heart and don't just selfishly think about myself all the time.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Matt W

    If the individual mandate is struck down but the rest of the law is allowed to stand, just raise everyone in the country's taxes, and then offer tax breaks for anyone who has purchased health care insurance.

    March 28, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      Right because tax breaks are so meaningful to people with low incomes and therefore non-existent taxable income.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. CrewMom

    The US is so far behind the othjer major industrialized countries when it comes to health care that we should be ashamed of ourselves. Many on the right are screaming about 'forcing' people to buy health insurance. Well I'm sick and tired of having to pay a surtax on my healthcare expenses to cover those who do not have health insurance. Yet hospitals are legally bound to provide care for those uninsured who show up in their emergency rooms. That cost is passed along to paying patients. When my son was born 20 years ago that surtax was $2000! Our whole system needs to be overhauled but that won't happen because there are too many special interests making money every step of the way. Safety nets were created to help the hopeless, not the clueless, yet it seems to be the clueless who are the problem – why are we covering the expenses of those who continue to make poor life choices?

    March 28, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rob

      We're behind in education too.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. XerXeS_2012

    If you're really going to complain about the Mandatory Healthcare, then you should complain about Mandatory Seltbelts "Click it or Tick it". The coverage is for those who really feel they do not need it and can think of so many reasons, but its really for those reasons that none of can think of. @ Randy Darrah, you might as well ask for who pays for the police, fire fighters, etc that ensures your care and protection. I say Keep it all, but do not make it mandatory, if you want to opt-out and get ill and have to go to hospital, that is now on you and you MUST cover your own cost, hey remember you signed dox and waivers because you didnt think you needed it. Put that clause in there and it's all good.

    March 28, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lizzie

      Unions and Pres.Obama supporters are already exempt.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Southerner01

      You only have to wear seatbelts and have car insurance if you drive on public highways and/or hold a state driver's license. If they said only people with health insurance can use public hospitals, I would be fine with it, because it does not force everyone to buy insurance.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Debbie J

    Does Clarence Thomas ever use his voice to debate any issue before the court or is he a MUTE Judge?

    March 28, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Micha

      On the issue of oral argument, I know the solicitor general had a horrible outing at oral argument yesterday...it was painful to listen to and it seems that anyone familiar with the process would recognize brain freeze when they see and hear it. But, I'm curious as to whether anyone has any data on the issue of whether a rough outing/hot bench necessarily foretells the outcome of a case? I have to assume that the DOJ answered all those tough questions posed at oral argument in their papers?? I know from personal experience that lawyers can have a horrendous day at oral argument, but win the case due to the strength of the papers and the letter of the law. I respect all the pundits, esp. Toobin, but might he be over stating the peril of the mandate based on the SG's poor performance??

      March 28, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • p

      Justice Thomas is known to be bought and paid for by the Koch brothers.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ann

      He's too busy checking for pub i c hairs on his can of coke.

      March 28, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Carl Peter Klapper

    IndyHoosier9: "...Right now, if a person goes to the hospital and does not have health insurance, they get treated and the rest of us pay for it (in our health care costs)...."

    WRONG!!!
    I go to a hospital and I pay the price we agree upon. There is no mention of health insurance except, possibly, that I consider it a scam.

    IndyHoosier9 and his fellow insureds go to the hospital, pay a co-pay which is somewhat less than what I pay. The hospital then submits a bill to the insurer that is severalfold higher than our out-of-pocket expense, five times that amount under a 20% co-pay. The insurer then pays the hospital out of premium money which comes mainly from private employers and the government. This fourfold windfall is then used by the hospital to bid on its various needs, thus increasing the prices for those items or labor, which become costs for all hospitals. This, then, forces the hospital to raise the fees to which it can be haggled down.

    Therefore, insured patient are the ones who increase health care costs, while the cash payers keep them down.

    March 28, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • lo

      You must be part of the 1%'ers.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • memyself

      What crap. You have an automobile accident and are brought into a hospital on a stretcher, unconscious. Your daughter suddenly spikes a fever of 106 and she has neck pain. Your wife has a seizure. You negotiate with the hospital over prices? Check other hospitals to see if they will offer you a lower price? You're out of your mind.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • p

      That's why all private health insurance companies should be outlawed. asap
      They are the problem.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joe

    @XerXeS_2012

    Seat belt laws are statewide, not federal...but other then ther its a valid comparison... like I said before Healthcare should be reformed at the state level, not federal. The only federal law regarding seatbelts is that it is manditory to have them since cars are not state specific and travel across state lines meaning it is the federal government's jurisdiction under the interstate commerce law... but when it comes down to it, the state makes you wear them, not the government.

    There are no interstate commerce issues that healthcare reform can hide under.

    March 28, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rob

      Coverage will be the interstate commerce issue. Different states have different types of plans. It will be a mess.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. rex tracy

    From here in Canada, you Americans are such a strange bunch. Here we have this primary belief by most of us that our first concern is to look after each other especially the less fortunate but it seems that you guys take such pride in the "every man for themselves" philosophy.

    March 28, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • cnn90

      I agree,

      As a former Canadian and now lives in the US, Americans sometimes have this philosophy "every man for himself".

      March 28, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guess What?

      And sometimes we sacrifice our bravest so you and the rest of the world can live as free from terrorism as humanely possible. But yes, we're all about ourselves.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • THE MOST PHONY DEMOCRACY ON EARTH

      @rex

      That is because your lovely country of Canada don't have rightwing confederates, spreading their bigotry and hate! We Americans have a tendency to grasp the cliche of "one nation under god" but the reality is that we are very far from that concept. Let's face it, selfishnes, bigotry and racism and greed rules America! Hence, we are the most phony "melting pot" of a so-called democracy, in history!

      March 28, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. THE MOST PHONY DEMOCRACY ON EARTH

    So where did the Founding Fathers go wrong? The Supreme court was supposed to be the X-factor in the "Checks-and-Balance system, yet we are left with a partisan Supreme Court where four Liberal Justices are voting for the individual mandate along party lines and Five Conservative Justices voting along party line against the mandate! So where did the Founding Fathers screw up? Seems like good ole congressional gridlock as usual! First the Founding Fathers screwed up our democracy with this stupid checks and balance systen then the screwed it up more by making it legal for Americans to purchase deadly firearms to untermine the safety and stability of our democracy. What a stupid country!

    March 28, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Southerner01

      So leave! Nobody is forcing you to stay.

      March 28, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mike58

    The question is FREEDOM. can the GOV make the someone buy something they don't want. Be it insurance, light bulbs, electric cars. Do you want t he GOV to have that control?

    March 28, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rob

      States take that freedom away by forcing drivers to buy car insurance. In rural areas cars are needed for travel.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • THE MOST PHONY DEMOCRACY ON EARTH

      Freedom? So why do I pay taxes and tolls? And if I was to drive through the tolls without paying, I get fined! And for Americans who have to pay highway tolls five or six days a week to earn a living, just imagine the impact that has on them being able to put food on the table for their love ones. And If I don't wear a seat belt, I get a ticket! They s too?

      March 28, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • memyself

      @mike58. Straw man argument. The government make me buy things I don't want or need all the time. What do you think taxes are for. My money is paying for a bullet somewhere, a highway somewhere, a tax break somewhere that I neither want, nor need. The difference is that these things are considered part of the commons, the common good (at least by our legislators). Health care is also part of the commons. Broccoli is not.

      March 28, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ann

      If you don't like buying light bulbs, sit in the dark.

      March 28, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rob

    I don't understand the right's argument. They don't want to pay for other peoples health issues, yet they do right now. We need to make these people accountable for health care. I consider the individual mandate the same as paying a federal tax, or paying car insurance at the state level. This should require everyone to purchase health insurance. A step forward would be to charge a higher co-pay for an ER visit than a physicians office visit. This should encourage people to visit convenient care centers or physician offices for minor issues. All citizens should have a right to basic health care, this should not be considered a privilege. I also believe that basic health care should not be profitable for insurance companies.

    March 28, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Paul

      While I agree that everyone should receive basic health care. I disagree with the part about profits for insurance. What about profits for hospitals, pharmacies, doctors, etc. You can not fix anything by singleing out one. From what I see it all been a political game with insurance companies being the bad guy just because that is who people have to deal with. All but individual doctors are corporations. They only see profits and stock values not healthcare for people. It was supposed to be about lowering cost not insurance. The bad guy insurance companies is a political diversion. I may not have the answer but I know a polical endrun when I see it from both sides. Maybe the government must take it back to being about care more than profits for these companies. Remove any and all tax breaks, deductions and government help. Tax profits fully. Regulations that keep the companies focused on healthcare over inflated market values, reward sucess and let the market control cost. Greedy people will still be there and that will make the company work to suceed.

      March 28, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. DavidRinVancouverWA

    America must have a single payer, nationalized healthcare system if our country is going to have any chance of success in the future. A nationalized system would allow everyone to be covered, would allow us to negotiate prices with the power of 350 million people behind it, and would allow for low administrative overhead costs (medicare is about 3% overhead v. as much as 15% or more for private, for profit insurance companies). A nationalized healthcare system could also subsidize the cost of medical school for aspiring doctors and nurses in exchange for time of service as a provider with the nationalized healthcare system. Overall, the benefit of nationalized single payer heathcare far outweighs the current option of increasing procedural and drug costs, as well as the outrageous burden of malpractice insurance and student loan costs that is levied on our medical professionals. Rising costs are not going to slow down unless America, collectively, puts a stop to it. The best was to do this is nationalized single payer healthcare like Medicare.

    March 28, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Southerner01

      Not only no but he11 no! Single payer is a disaster. If you want that, go to one of the places that have it.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. TB

    I think any type of business that makes a profit off of the misfortune of others is reprehensible. The idea that some CEO or stockholders should make millions from this is crazy. Car insurance, health insurance, all of them. If it were all handled through state or federal government, without profit involved, it would be cheaper for all.

    March 28, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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