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. Erwin Steucke

    I think we should take judge Alito's advice. We presently regulate vegtables for the public good. They are examined at point of growth, and at point of sale- thats how we know when a bad batch gets into the public arena. Judge Alito- without actually saying so, suggests we drop the health care bill and instead start regulating insurance companies at the point of origion (the policy) and the point of sales, If we make it mandatory for the insurance companies to meet certain regulated articles in their policies, the price wil go so high no one will be able to afford insurance, and the house of cards will collapse. We could even regulate the price and make it more effective. Don't like it- then go to single payer insurance and forget all this crap

    March 28, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Johns

    Was reading through all this and one pro-argument stands out a bit. That being people are required to have car insurance so why not health insurance. Problem is people today still drive without it and people ONLY have to have it if they want to legally drive their car on public roads. No one is forced or fined if they don't own a car and as such don't get car insurance. Afraid the comparison of car and health insurance doesn't fly.

    March 28, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • JS in CT

      Actually, the problem with your argument is this... the statement about not owning a car is irrelevant, because even though some people do not own cars, and therefore they are not forced to buy car insurance, EVERYONE is in the healthcare system already, whether they have insurance or not. Uninsured people ride in ambulances, and go to the hospital and are treated. If they have no insurance, then the rest of us have to pay. That is an 'unfunded mandate' on the rest of us that is already in place. So, this issue is... how to pay for it?

      March 28, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • alboze

      Auto insurance is required by the states and not the Fed. Also, you are not required to carry car insurance, you can self insure with a lump sum of money equal to the liability amount.

      March 28, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • JHD

      " No one is forced or fined if they don't own a car " is partially true but you are forgetting that those of us who DO pay car insurance are still forced to pay for uninsured and underinsured motorists or get fined no matter what. So your argument doesn't fly because we're still FORCED to pay whether its social security, medicare, car insurance, flood insurance etc. So if this does pass, I want to see your waiver if you ever lose your job and benefits that hospitals don't have to treat you.

      March 28, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Southerner01

      JS, I know someone who is 77 and has never seen a doctor or been in a hospital, so you are incorrect.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pander Express

      Southerner01-so what? That is far from the norm. I know a 13 year old that is in and out of the hospital with cancer. You are every bit as incorrect.
      The vast majority of us come into this world, and leave it in a hospital, with numerous health issues in between.

      March 28, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mark

    Yes, ACA forces all citizens to buy insurance. And yes, the government has the right to impose this obligation on citizens. For, like in cases of ensuring basic education, defending the nation's sovereignty, limiting the right of free expression of opinion – these acts are JUSTIFIABLE in a society where "all men are created equal".

    March 28, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobington

      Exactly I choose to drive or not. If I choose to drive I need to pay for insurance. With Obamacare if I choose not to have insurance I still have to pay.

      March 28, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JS in CT

    The conservative "solution" is not a solution at all, but more right wing claptrap. It would NOT solve the basic problem– that irresponsible people want the 'freedom' not to have proper insurance, but then they want the rest of us to pay for their healthcare when they are ill or injured. The rest of us are NOT free at all with the current system- we pay an average of $1000 per year to cover these people who are not covered. This is why car insurance is mandatory in every state- without a mandate, the auto insurance system does not work. Costs do need to be controlled, but there needs to be universal coverage as well.

    March 28, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fail

      Actually you are WRONG...car insurance is not required in every state! Why don't you google your topic before you start talking like you know everything!!!

      March 28, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Southerner01

      Then fix the right law. End the requirment that uninsured people who cannot pay get care. Problem solved.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. bobington

    Health Insurance is not required to have Health Care

    March 28, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. THE MOST PHONY DEMOCRACY ON EARTH

    I remember when the healthcare legislation was passed in 2010, the republicans accussed Obama and Pelosi of trying to set a legacy for themselves! No, that is called governing and looking out for our most important asset, the American people! And as far as healthcare goes, I personally believe that a healthier America is simply a stronger America!

    March 28, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Joe

    @the most phony democracy on earth

    I would rather look out for myself then have someone acouple thousand miles away pretend to know what I need in my life and look out for me... they will just mess it up.

    Thanks,
    An american citizen

    March 28, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Agreed

      I 100% agree with you!!!

      March 28, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. cnn90

    Heatlh care should not be profitable, period.

    March 28, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Me

      That is called social health care, which I kind of do agree with. If we went to socialized health care, it would solve a lot of these debates but also open up a lot of new ones I guess. The Government will NEVER make everyone happy!!!

      March 28, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Southerner01

      Then nobody would provide it. How would that be better. I think it should be more profitable, then we would have more available. Basic economics.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Max

    Having lived for 45 years in UK, France, Italy and worked in the Scandinavian countries and Germany before moving to the US 10 years ago, I experimented both Universal Health Care and the US Health Care and even if Obamacare doesn't save as much money and cut costs as the other health care system do (I pay in texes for all the services 100 times less than what America pays in premiums for nothing), Obamacare is way much better than what the US had before.

    OBAMACARE covers everybody and even before staring in 2014 already saved $51B removing pre-existing conditions to kids and allowing people to keep their healthcare if they loose jobs and children up to the age of 26 can stay with their parents’ plan. No more pre-existing conditions, women pay the same than men not more, lowers the cost of your insurance because less uninsured use hospitals and you don’t have to pay for them in taxes and increase of your premium, planned parenthood, freecolonoscopy, free mammograms, free medical tests, ….

    I am TOTALLY in favor of the Individual mandate. It's about time people assume responsibilities and work together to lower costs and finally behaving like grown ups.

    March 28, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Funny

      That is funny, my premiums have gone up more in the past 3 years then any other period in the past and I have had the same job for 13 years now!!! And my deductible has gone up too in the past 3 year which is never had prior!!! How has Obamacare made insurance cheaper??? FAIL

      March 28, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Southerner01

      Thn why are you here? Go back to one of those countries that have the kind of care you like and leave ours alone!

      March 28, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mark

    Healthcare should be a right as life is a right.
    Health and life are inseparable. Without life there is no health, without health there is no life. One could say the same with life and food or life and shelter. However, not all food and shelter bring about health which do not make them in equal footing with health as inseparable to life. In this regard, food and shelter are just like any other commodity which can be good or bad to life. But health is always good to life inseparably.

    March 28, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • What

      What?? By your logic, food and drink should be free then too!!! Your logic does not make sense!

      March 28, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Southerner01

      Health care cannot be a right because you do not have a right to someone else's labor. Your right to healthcare ends at the point that you need someone else to provide it.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Southerner01

      Also, you'll die a lot faster without food than without healthcare. Additionally, all healthcare is not good for your health. There have been many drugs removed from the market because they did more harm than good. People die every day when an operation goes wrong, who may have lived longer without it. Malpractice, drug interactions, wrong diagnoses... Sounds like healthcare can be good or bad too.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Joe

    @cnn90

    health care isn't the profitable part, health insurance is... it is a business... it isn't profitable if you don't buy it... it is definitely profitable if you are forced to buy it..

    March 28, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Joe

    @Max

    not really going to debate most of your point, as I have already said the healthcare should be a state issue rather than a federal issue...

    having a mandatate forcing people to buy something is not making them assume responsibility... fining them for not doing so is not making them assume responsibility either..

    Letting them have control of their own healthcare and giving them the ability and options to do what they want is...

    March 28, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Max

      Absolutely 100% worng. Stop behaving as if the US is not a country with this State BS. Stop whining!! The federal Government has the right to create bills in the interest of the entire nation. As a matter of fact, as always happens, Federal laws can be changed at State level, so if you have the majority in the State Senate you can overturn individual mandate.

      We are talking about lowering the costs of health care at personal and general level. Today if you are not forced to buy health care and you use the emergency room WE pay in taxes and premiums 10 times more. With the individual mandate if you use the emergency room you are responsible of your care. Furthermore, if you loose your job before Obamacare you loose your insurence which is an exponentially costly burden, while with the new law you keep your insurance and the only burden to pay is your insurance which is actually affordable because it's proportional to your income. TIME AMERICANS UNDERSTAND THAT INDIVIDUALISM CAN KILL THE NATION AND INCREASE THE OVERALL COSTS OF THE SERVICES AND NOT NECESSARILY LOWERS YOURS.

      March 28, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ricardo

    While I do agree that the Individual Mandate section of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Not Obamacare) is subject to interpretation, I believe that if any or all portions of this act are struck down by the Supreme Court, then it would set a legal precedent to go back to subsequent laws of the past whose intent was to help the American people, such as Social Security and Medicare, and review them as well. If an American Citizen does not want to elect for coverage under this act because no one gave them the choice, then couldn't you say the same thing about Social Security, Medicare, or even the IRS? No one gave us the choice to pay into these programs, yet we do regardless. This act was created to address the issue of rising health insurance premiums in our country. The United States has some of the highest costs for health insurance, and if this law had not been passed, we would have seen more and more Americans make difficult decisions, such as, "Should I pay for my prescriptions, or should I pay for dinner?"

    March 28, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Max

      @Jeff. Judge Scalia made the example of forcing peoploe to buy BROCCOLI which is really childish for a Supreme Court Judge. The Supreme Court can always deliberate saying that because of the specific nature of the Health care structure ONLY in this case we approve the individual mandate and the States decide through their legislation if they want to keep it or not. WHY? Because with Obamacare anybodu deoesn't buy broccoli but they buy the chance to save money on buying broccoli or anything else you need in a supermarket. Without Individual mandate, you buy what you like but who is without insurance gets broccoli for free at the emergency room and you are forced to buy his broccoli you don't want at 10 times the price

      March 28, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Max

      Judge Scalia made the example of forcing peoploe to buy BROCCOLI which is really childish for a Supreme Court Judge. The Supreme Court can always deliberate saying that because of the specific nature of the Health care structure ONLY in this case we approve the individual mandate and the States decide through their legislation if they want to keep it or not. WHY? Because with Obamacare anybodu deoesn't buy broccoli but they buy the chance to save money on buying broccoli or anything else you need in a supermarket. Without Individual mandate, you buy what you like but who is without insurance gets broccoli for free at the emergency room and you are forced to buy his broccoli you don't want at 10 times the price

      March 28, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Southerner01

      Your analogy does not hold up. Those are taxes. Obamacare forces private citizens to engage in transactions with private insurance companies. It is unprecedented for the federal government to tell US citizens that they MUST buy a product from a private company.

      March 28, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jeff

    I feel like our political system is slowly heading towards some kind of breaking point. The country is broke and neither political party really works for the good of the country. We vote for the lesser of two evils each election and each side tries to keep the other from getting anything done regardless of what the right thing to do actually is. It doesn't matter if the president is republican or democrat in most instances since the partisan bickering is so out of control we will still end with the same results when politicians are supposed to fight for their people, not their own personal opinions.

    It is sometimes scary to see how large the divide is becoming between the conservatives and liberals and only having a two party system is not helping us. Its becoming extremist in some cases and truly unhealthy for this country. No matter what the decision is on the healthcare law, I fear this will push us one step closer to that breaking point. What happens then? Do we head down the path towards the next revolution or civil war as the divide continues to grow and the politicians continue to bicker while our country falls apart?

    March 28, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Thank you for a great post.

      March 28, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • THE MOST PHONY DEMOCRACY ON EARTH

      Well, that happens when you have a successful black President looking out for all Americans! The conservative confederate right gets envious and jealous and starts to spread their bigotry and hate to divide America with their jim crow ideologies! Then they go out and hire domestic terrorists to take shots at the white house, to gun down our congresswoman in Arizona and to blow up the oil rig in the gulf of Mexico so see to it that our black President fails! Yea, seems as though we are heading for a civil war! Well, I hope not! Lets' just pray for a more unified America!

      March 28, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dano

    The State government makes us buy AUTO Insurance.......why don't the Supreme Court strike this down too?

    March 28, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
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