Skip to main content

Decoding Health Care Reform

October 25, 2010

Decoding Health Care

The student chapter of the American Constitution Society and Law Students for Reproductive Justice combined resources recently to host a panel discussion concerning the current and future impact of Health Care reform legislation. A diverse panel was assembled, including guest speakers Rick Lemoine, practicing physician and Sharp Healthcare executive; Vince Hall, Vice President of Public Affairs & Communications of Planned Parenthood; and our own Professor Marybeth Herald. Professor Delman was a gracious hostess for the event.

The presentation began with Dr. Lemoine discussing the current medical delivery system and the roles of various stakeholders. The doctor has experience with both Canadian and European health-care systems, and compared these systems with our evolving one. Dr. Lemoine has the opinion that many of the upcoming changes will be positive. In particular there will be a fixed global payment for particular conditions to treatment and medical devices. This will bring greater financial accountability and improve patient care. Additionally, regional variations in care and clinical results are likely to be reduced

Mr. Vince Hall, a recent graduate and yet another success story from TJSL, followed next. He described the very significant positive effect Planned Parenthood of San Diego has had on reducing unplanned pregnancies. Mr. Hall described that pregnancy termination services comprised less than 5% of the services Planned Parenthood.

Unplanned pregnancies not only put the mother and baby at risk, but add significantly to health-care costs, locally and nation-wide. Mr. Hall described that the Planned Parenthood model is one of proven success, and should fully integrated into the Health Care reform package. Unfortunately, there are mixed- messages in this regard, but he remains hopeful.

Lastly, Professor Herald discussed the Constitutional foundations of the challenges that states are now bringing forth to prevent enactment of the health-care legislation. Essentially, states are asserting that Congress did not have the authority to pass the legislation. Professor Herald’s opinion was that the Commerce clause would seem to support Congress’ authority. And, that even under Congressional Tax and Spend powers, the Federal government is probably on very firm ground to have enacted Health Care reform.

Professor Herald ended by wondering aloud about the issue of “severability” as being the Achilles Heel of the legislation. As she explained, if a court were to find certain terms or clauses of the reform legislation as being unconstitutional, the court could not simply strike these parts as the reform act is not severable. This might de-rail the reform in total due to some constitutionally suspect parts.