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What they’re saying: A roundup of coverage as U.S. awaits Supreme Court health-law ruling

What to watch for when the Supreme Court unveils its health-law decision, as well as some viewpoints and cautions about understanding it.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue its decision on the Affordable Care Act on Thursday.

As Americans await the U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act, expected Thursday, Kaiser Health News offers the following roundup of pre-decision stories and viewpoints from around the nation.

Kaiser Health NewsWith stories that set the scene or provide a sense of history, news outlets offer guides about what to watch for when the Supreme Court unveils its health law decision, as well as some cautions about understanding it: 

Politico: John Roberts’ Big Moment
Justices are expected to rule Thursday — during their final public sitting of the term — on the fate of President Barack Obama’s signature health law. While much of the early attention focused on swing-vote Justice Anthony Kennedy, many court watchers predict Roberts will be the architect of the ruling (Gerstein, 6/26).

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Politico: A Viewer’s Guide to The SCOTUS Health Care Ruling
If you thought Monday’s immigration decision was confusing, wait until the Supreme Court weighs in on health care Thursday. Court-watchers expect a flurry of opinions, dissents and concurring judgments — a confusing outcome for a complex law. When that happens, all of Washington — and the law’s supporters and opponents throughout the country — will be scrambling for the quickest way to find out the law’s fate (Haberkorn, 6/25).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Supreme Court Ruling Caps A Century Of American Debate Over How To Get Medical Care For All
The Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling on President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law comes after a century of debate over what role the government should play in helping people in the United States afford medical care. A look at the issue through the years (6/25).

Medscape:  Supreme Court Ruling On ACA Expected Thursday
The US Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the sweeping signature healthcare reform legislation of the Obama Administration, is expected on Thursday, June 28, the final day of the court’s 2011-2012 term.  Court-watchers had been expecting the decision at the end of June, and many predicted that it would be left until nearly the end of the session because of “sharp disagreement” noted by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in a speech earlier this month.  Most observers agree that there are 5 possible outcomes for the decision (Brooks, 6/25).

Marketplace:  The Health Care Law’s Legacy
Unless the justices are doing a huuuuuuge constitutional head-fake, Thursday’s going to be health care day. But it turns out that whether the Supreme Court tosses the whole Affordable Care Act, upholds the whole thing, or does something in between, some of the changes it brought to American health care are here to stay (Gorenstein, 6/25).

Health News Florida: It’s Nail-Biting Time On The Affordable Care Act
The long wait for a Supreme Court ruling in Florida’s lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act will end soon — probably on Thursday. As some have said, the suspense is reminiscent of waiting for the verdict in the O.J. Simpson trial in 1995.  If Florida prevails and the entire law is thrown out, there will be jubilation for some, angst for others.  Leading the celebration will be Gov. Rick Scott, who is already preparing his remarks, and Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has leveraged her role in the case to attain a national audience among conservative activists. Others who have opposed the Act on political or ideological grounds also would be happy (Gentry, 6/25).

The New York Times: A Look Back At Court’s Arguments On Health Care, Laugh Count Included
The Supreme Court’s momentous decision on the fate of President Obama’s health care law is expected Thursday, and it is likely to be dry, sober, weighty and self-conscious about its place in constitutional history (Liptak, 6/25).

Viewpoints roundup:

The Washington Post: Redefining American Government Through Obamacare
Much has been made of the fact that Republicans had no objection, constitutional or otherwise, when the individual mandate first surfaced. But that was two decades ago. In today’s changed intellectual, fiscal and political environment, seemingly lapidary constitutional phrases such as “commerce . . . among the several states” can acquire fresh meaning, as they did for the New Deal and at other points in the past. The brilliance of Obamacare’s opponents lies in spotting that historical opportunity and making the most of it (Charles Lane, 6/25).

The Washington Post: Would A SCOTUS Decision Against Obamacare Be Illegitimate?
James Fallows is getting a lot of attention for arguing this week that if the Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act, it will be a fundamentally illegitimate act on the court’s part. After all, most legal scholars consider the Broccoli Liberty argument to be a joke. This is, no doubt, a critical question; can the Court just do whatever it likes? Is there — and should there be — any constraint? (Jonathan Berstein, 6/25).

The Washington Post: Republicans Support Obama’s Health Reforms — As Long As His Name Isn’t On Them
The new Reuters-Ipsos poll finds that Obamacare remains deeply unpopular; 56 percent of Americans oppose the law, versus only 44 percent who favor it. The poll also finds that strong majorities of Americans favor the individual provisions in the law — the hated individual mandate excepted, of course. What’s particularly interesting about this poll is that solid majorities of Republicans favor most of the law’s main provisions, too (Greg Sargent, 6/25).

Politico: Health Care Policy Libertarians
Is President Barack Obama’s health care law compatible with free-market capitalism? “Obamacare” seeks to achieve universal health coverage by mandating that people not already covered must purchase health insurance — and makes it possible for all to do so by redistributing resources from the relatively affluent to the relatively poor. For critics like Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), this stinks of socialism. But is he right? (Erick Angner, 6/25).

Politico: Supreme Court’s Legitimacy At Stake On Affordable Care Act
But the court will be ignoring real and compelling — if not downright inescapable — constitutional logic if it strikes down the act. Despite the inclination among jaded Washingtonians to assume everything is just politics, no one should be shy about holding the justices to their duty to apply precedent, not politics, and constitutional text, not talking points, to the health care challenges. This standard should apply to justices of any and all political stripes in all cases (Elizabeth B. Wydra, 6/25).

This is part of Kaiser Health News’ Daily Report, a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. Reprinted with permission.

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.