Weekly Roundup 6/25/2012

The Six Possible Supreme Court ‘Obamacare’ Outcomes
Brian Beutler, Talking Points Memo, June 25, 2012

Synopsis: For its highly anticipated ruling on the Democrats’ Affordable Care Act, the Court has several options, including “punt,” since the fee that the law imposes on those who decline to buy insurance – which is arguably a tax -- has not yet taken effect. A seldom mentioned but potentially highly troublesome option would be for the Court to strike down the requirement that states expand Medicaid – using mostly federal funds – to cover everyone with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line.

Takeaway: Beutler writes: “If the Court determines that the mandate [to buy insurance] violates the Constitution, it can ‘sever’ the mandate from the rest of the law….This outcome would leave it up to Congress and the states to deal with the ‘adverse selection’ problem — without a mandate…young and healthy people would avoid purchasing insurance until stricken by illness or injury, leaving older, sicker people in the risk pool. Premiums would spike and the market could ultimately collapse….[L]awmakers would be under intense pressure from the insurance industry to forestall the potential calamity.”

For more, see our reports on “Health Care Reform” (Aug. 28, 2009, and June 11, 2010 – updated May 24, 2011), “Universal Coverage” (March. 30, 2007) and “Rising Health Costs” (April. 7, 2006).

-- Marcia Clemmitt, Staff Writer


Generation Gap Is Back
“Old vs. Young,” by David Leonhardt, “Sunday Review,” The New York Times, June 24, 2012

Synopsis: The Washington bureau chief of the Times argues that the economic and political generation gap between the young and those over 65 is growing.  Since about 2004, older voters began moving right, he writes, while younger voters shifted left. The young favor gay marriage and school funding more strongly than their elders, and they also are less religious, more positive toward immigrants, less hostile to Social Security cuts and military cuts and more optimistic about the country’s future.

Takeaway:  Younger Americans’ optimism is especially striking in view of the fact that the economic slump of the last decade has taken a much higher toll on the young, who are less  established in their working lives and are struggling both to get hired and to hold on to jobs. And the wealth gap between households headed by those over 65 and those under 35 is wider than at any point since the Federal Reserve Board began keeping consistent data in 1989.

For background see “The Partisan Divide” April 30, 2004.

--Kathy Koch, Managing Editor, CQ Global Researcher


A Madman in Our Midst
Jeneen Interlandi, The New York Times Magazine, June 22, 2012

Synopsis: The author recounts her father’s tragic spiral through emergency rooms, psych wards and eventually jail as severe bipolar disease robbed him of his mental health.

Takeaway: In the end, her father’s mania begins to subside, and with the help of a defense attorney and an understanding judge, he returns to normalcy -- and to his wife and family. “And with therapy and medication, the final traces of his mania finally dissolved,” the author writes.

For background, see “Prison Health Care,” Jan. 5, 2007.

-- Thomas J. Colin, Contributing Editor