Day Three of health care arguments in D.C.

Gregory Warner Mar 28, 2012

Stacey Vanek Smith: Today is the final day the Supreme Court will hear arguments about the legality of the Obama administration’s health care overhaul.

Our own Gregory Warner has been covering the case for us and he joins us live just outside of the courthouse. Good morning, Gregory!

Gregory Warner: Good morning, Stacey.

Vanek Smith: So Gregory, tell us what happened today.

Warner: Well today was the issue of severability, and that’s the question of: If the court does strike down this individual mandate, what else in the law do they have to strike with it? Of course, today’s proceedings became more important because of what happened yesterday, where the individual mandate seemed more likely on the chopping block. And here Kennedy today even was echoing that substantial possibility of the individual mandate being struck down. And then the liberal Justices are saying, like Justice Sotomayor was saying, wait isn’t half a loaf better than no loaf? Shouldn’t we keep some of this law? And Justice Ginsburg saying, wait do you want a wrecking job or shouldn’t we do a salvage operation?

Vanek Smith: Well, wrecking job, salvage operation — what’s your feeling? How is the court leaning?

Warner: Well, Justice Scalia definitely wants the wrecking ball. He was asking a lot of questions suggesting that the insurance industry, he was unwilling to stick the insurance industry with the bill, which could happen if the individual mandate — the requirement that everybody buy insurance — is struck down, the insurance industry would have to pay for other provisions.

Vanek Smith: Now Gregory, from what I understand, they’re talking about Medicaid later today. What are we expecting from that conversation?

Warner: Real briefly, this afternoon is going to be: Can the federal government compel the states to expand the definition of Medicaid? It’s really significant because this would insure another 15 million people. And it’s also significant because, I mean, Congress does all these Medicaid expansions all the time and in another year this would be routine, but here the Supreme Court wants to hear it and they’re making it part of this three-day set of hearings, so it takes on more importance because of that.

Vanek Smith: Gregory Warner at the Supreme Court, thank you Gregory.

Warner: Thanks Stacey.

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