Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Big Decisions Coming in US Supreme Court: Same-Sex Marriage and Obama Health Law

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Big Decisions Coming in US Supreme Court: Same-Sex Marriage and Obama Health Law

Article excerpt

U.S. court to rule on gay marriage, Obamacare

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WASHINGTON - Two of the biggest court decisions of the Obama era are coming within days and their impact could reverberate from homes and hospitals to the election trail.

They involve health care and same-sex marriage.

A question at the heart of these disparate cases is that of national uniformity: does the United States keep moving all 50 states toward universal health care, and toward same-sex marriage?

Or will the country be splintered into a red-state, blue-state scenario where the liberal parts of the country keep their federal health reforms and same-sex marriage while conservative places move the other way?

The Supreme Court decisions could come as early as Thursday.

One case involves whether to legalize same-sex marriage across the country, by forcing non-gay-marriage states to perform such weddings or recognize licences granted elsewhere.

The public-policy implications of the health-care debate are even more complex. Politicians are already grappling with what to do should the King vs. Burwell case gut President Barack Obama's signature health-care law.

Insurance exchanges could collapse in the two-thirds of U.S. states, depending on the ruling. Obamacare opponents want to end federal support for the exchanges in those states that didn't set up their own.

Health Secretary Sylvia Burwell explained how such a ruling could result in 6.4 million people losing their health coverage.

''(Without that federal subsidy) their premium cost goes up. When that happens, it is probable that they can no longer afford (insurance),'' she said.

''What happens is sometimes referred to as a death spiral (for an insurance program). In the individual market, previously prices were extremely high because only the sickest would go in.''

The U.S. has never had universal health coverage, and still doesn't.

But under the so-called Obamacare reform, everyone is entitled to get insurance under a system where the federal government pushes young, healthy people to buy it under threat of fines, while subsidizing the rest. …

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