March 27th, 2012
08:06 PM ET

Overheard on Readers go back and forth as Supreme Court mulls health care law

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on 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."

"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 Or send us a video comment via CNN iReport.

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

soundoff (346 Responses)
  1. solution

    Here is where this country stands. Social Security is getting ready to be bankrupt. Wall street got rich off of our mishaps .And the government is trying to add another type of tax on the working people in the form of mandatory healthcare. There should be a rule...the wealthy middle and poor should each contribute the same tax rate to the county. The country then in turn should reallocate these taxes into three essential things for the survival of the American way of life. Education, Health, Energy. Everything else should take second precedence.

    March 28, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Twilighttrail

      Please quote your sources for "Social Security is getting ready to be bankrupt." This is simply not true.

      March 28, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • longshot

      SS is not about to go bankrupt. Wall Street created the mishaps. And we already pay this tax because hospitals are required to treat people coming to the emergency rooms, and that raises all of our costs. Let's do it smarter instead of forcing them to emergency rooms.

      March 28, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ctguy591

    the only thing republicans want to do for hc is nothing that threatens the bribes they receive from big pharma, big insurance co. and the rest of our hc system as a whole and the heck with the hard working american people !!!!

    March 28, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • andrewr770

      ctguy, you are incredibly naive if you think that only Republicans are in the pockets of Big Pharma and other healthcare companies. They have billions of dollars and send them everywhere to hedge their bets.

      March 28, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. solution

    people just need to be accountable for what they spend. When i see people that come into the hospital that are able to afford a cellphone, but expect things for free when it comes to the hospital it maddens me. People have gotten the message...go to hospital X...say you have this problem and you can stay there as long as you want...Clinicians have a running joke amongst themselves..hospitals are better places to stay...than hotels/motels...get free housing, clothing and food...People need to be held accountable for their spending. The hospital is handicapped by its duty to help the poor. I dont know what our government is doing...

    March 28, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • ctguy591

      there's a hell of a difference between the cost of a cell phone and a 100,00.0 dollar hospital bill, get real !!!!

      March 28, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pander Express

      I can buy a cell phone at Target for $15 with prepaid minites. What the hell does that have to do with getting healthcare? So you want to stop providing health care to those that cannot afford it- just let us know where you want to dump the bodies.

      March 28, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Aaron

    This bill is not adding trillions to the deficit as we are years away from having tangible data and projections show that it will end up saving a lot of money. That line of thinking is merely hypothetical speculation, trending heavily toward blatant dishonesty.

    This ties into the basic fundamental that the anti-health care crowd usually projects as the economic plank of their philosophy (and their reasoning for supporting Governor Romney) which is that the country should be run like a business.

    One of the distinct advantages offered by almost every great company is the access to affordable (cheap) health care, which is presented as and often mistaken for a perk. These companies offer health care as a means to keep their employees healthy and productive, which is a sound philosophy. While productivity should not be the only measure in which we judge our overall health, it certainly doesn't hurt, especially when people are fighting for employment and survival.

    March 28, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ctguy591

    am I right to say that of all the wasted and outrageous money going into this bloathed hc system, we cant have a more efficient and affordable system with the same money ?

    March 28, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • RN Curtis

      Yes...It's called MediCare.

      March 28, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. solution

    Why did you expect to get healthcare for free? let see all the people that are actually involved in your care. First the ambulance that brings you to the place. The cost of setting up a place, clean from infection and other contamination. Clean sheet bed getting blood vitals labs to see why you came? Decide on whether to put you on to a floor. Arranging for transport. Setting up a room, service and medical care in the form of nurse, staff, doctors, rehab specialists...all these have costs... We want all of it..and as much of it as free as you can...

    March 28, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Steve

    @Confused , Republicans are not outraged because that is different on two points.
    1, If you do not want to pay it, you do not have to drive. You have a way out.
    2, It is done at state level. It is not done nation wide.

    March 28, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. andrewr770

    My problem with the health care legislation is that it did NOT address the root problem in the healthcare industry: excessive and rising cost. It has never been a question about health insurance but rather AFFORDABILITY. Now, we need some intelligent people in politics (I know, I know - maybe we could have the people in office assemble some intelligence people...would that work?) thoroughly examine the root causes of the high cost of medical care in the United States. Here are some possibilities: 1) medical malpractice (most people seem to agree that it inflates costs by 10%), 2) high cost of medical school leading to massive student loan debt, 3) Byzantine regulations, both from the government and from the insurance companies, 4) hidden costs - ever try to find out what your insurance company will reimburse for procedures?, 5) ridiculous salaries for specialists (with some of that mandated by malpractice insurance costs - see #1), 6) unnecessary prescriptions caused by incessant drug company ads to patients, and 7+) ??? Those are just off the top of my head, and I am sure there are plenty more.

    I have no illusions that any changes will be easy or palatable to everyone. However, if we want to enact positive, lasting change that matters, we must make some hard decisions. The healthcare mandate is a bandaid on a compound fracture. In fact, that bandaid is making the fracture worse because the costs will continue to spiral upward on the backs of those now paying into the system.

    March 28, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • The REAL Truth...

      I agree – but we are not going to get there in one step. ACA is a good start, but not perfect. However, the GOP REFUSES to accept anything other than complete REPEAL. They will NOT work with the Dem's to come up with a workable solution.
      That is in line with complaining that it will do away with Medicare (and that IS good, not bad) and the rest of their do nothing approach to removing Obama.
      Prices are high because healthcare is NOT an open market. Would you buy a car without knowing the price, then be forced to pay whatever your "part" for it was once the bill arrived? I doubt a single person would agree, but that's how our helathcare system works when you have insurance. It's a closed shop rip off. They can charge what they like and pay what they like.

      March 28, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • solution

      Exactly...There are three primary issues when dealing with healthcare. Access, Quality of Care, and Affordability. There is tremendous in roads on access to care. Many folks more than ever have access to excellent places of care. And these places often times provide a quality of care that is unparalleled to the rest of the free world. The biggest and most prominent issue is Affordability. While the idea of getting everyone health insurance is truly a noble one thinking that it will address the issue temporarily, but in the end the cost will still climb....
      Its kinda like people thinking that the release of strategic oil reserve will help the cost of gas...but as we all know...that is just a temp fix...the cost will still rise until we find a way to attain a different energy mean...I dont consider my self republican or democrat, but as a person that is wanting for our country to save it self from the bumbling fools in DC...

      March 28, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Farmer John

    Being self employed, I have had to purchase my own health insurance most of my life, and it isn't any fun nor very easy. The problem with Obama care is that it lacks a single payer system. As long as a profit motive is involved (re: private insurance companies) we are going to be price gouged and services limited. Anyone who thinks that they will live a long healthy life without any need for health care, is either planning a self inflicted wound or they are kidding themselves. If we can't have single payer, then we need, THREE OPTION health plans, (good, better, best) which are the same across all state lines, so we can actually compare prices. Just got our auto insurance plan, guess how many pages it has!

    March 28, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ebony

    I received an e-mail from a congressman that said Obama wants to put a cap on people on Medicare so if you need a hip replacement and then get pneumonia and reach your cap it so long Charlie. It will be the worst thing put on seniors that has ever been in American history. These people worked all their life and put into the system to be told if they cost too much they will have to die. What is this country coming to?

    March 28, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • The REAL Truth...

      @Ebony – that is completely garbage and incorrect. That is a step toward capping Medicare – which exists for those whom Insurance refuse to cover. Since those folks will now be covered under ACA, there is no need for Medicare. Saves us taxpayers BILLIONS. But I'd bet your Congressman is a Repug and is using the usual fear tactics on those who don't knwo better.

      March 28, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • RN Curtis

      No...That's the Ryan Plan

      March 28, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sara

    Anyone with a healthy child should remember this: If your child develops a health problem before age 18, unless they get their health insurance through work, they can be DENIED health insurance due to a pre-existing condition. The new health care bill prevents insurance companies from doing that. For those people who don't want to cover sick people under the plan – as IF they are not being covered now-they go to the ER and costs are spread to everyone. Getting outpatient care for people who are not now covered by insurance will actually lower costs since preventative care prevents illness.

    March 28, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Troy

      Yeah just like getting auto insurance they have SR22 which is triple the price of auto insurance for others it is not feasible and is a racket for the insurance industry. They already deny you in other ways from having auto insurance or make it impossible for you to get proper insurance. This health insurance is a means to cause major problems to the American people it will not protect your child in the future. The insurance companies give you a cap of 1-5 million dollars in a lifetime but, your talking the government which if you paid into social security all your working life both you and your husband and both of you retire what happens to the spouses retirement. I will tell you this Social Security will pay the husbands full amount of Social Security of 1700.00 or less and if the wife paid the same amount to Social Security the wife only receives 800.00 or less in Social Security or none at all and or does not qualify. Look into it you will find out that under the Medicare plan the husband may be able to get Medical care but the wife may not under the plan.

      March 28, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. migeli

    Why is a Republican answer always"leave it up to the states".? You mean like when some states had slavery and others didn't? Just avoiding the answer, which is "healthcare for all"and stop all the price-gouging and fraud.

    March 28, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. yahmez

    I am very disappointed with the Affordable Care Act, because it forces everyone to do business with the same unscrupulous companies that have helped drive up the cost of healthcare in the first place. I do like the provision that prevents discrimination against those with a preexisting condition. I used up my lifetime limit on mental health care in 1986. I cannot afford the expensive drugs and psychiatric care without insurance. A single payer system would be the most effective way to drive down the cost of medications and treatment. There are over 1000 types of claim forms to be processed by doctors today, a single payer system could lower medical treatments by 1/3 to 1/2 the cost we are currently paying in the U.S..

    March 28, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. observer41

    Antonin Scalia was toying with AG Verrilli. The Chief Justice was surely aware that the great English libertarian, John Stuart Mill answered the Limiting Principle question in his 1859 essay On Liberty. Mills' famous Harm Principle declares that the state should interfere with an individual's right to do (or not do) as he pleases only if such action causes harm to others. A law that penalizes an individual for not buying broccoli does not pass this test. A law requiring individuals to purchase health insurance could meet this test on two counts. The first, is that the uninsured place a financial burden on those who are insured,and that without universal enrollment under a larger tent, programs like Medicare will be unsustainable. These topics has been discussed at length. A second reason is that the uninsured will be reluctant to seek or unable to access timely medical care during the early stages of illness. If you doubt this, try showing up at your local hospital with a fever, without proof of insurance, and see how quickly you receive treatment compared with someone who is insured. Events over the last twenty years shows that the rapid spread of pandemics always begins with only a few individuals who do not receive the required medical intervention in time,leading to the death of thousands.

    March 28, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Nevis Mn

    Got the sniffles? Go to the Emergency Romm- it's free!

    March 28, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
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