Posted at: 06/27/2012 11:38 PM
| Updated at: 06/28/2012 9:05 AM
By: Dan Levy
ALBANY - The U.S. Supreme Court is on the brink of a landmark decision that will shape the future of American health care. As if that weren't enough, the election-year ruling could have a huge impact on the presidential race and the lives of millions of Americans.
No matter how the U.S. Supreme Court rules Thursday on the constitutionality of the sweeping health care reform law championed by President Obama, most political pundits believe it will inevitably divide the country.
The stakes couldn't be overstated. Health care reform is President Obama's signature achievement, perhaps his legacy.
"Here in the United States of America nobody has to go broke because they get sick," the President said this week at a campaign rally.
Meanwhile, presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney is telling supporters if the High Court strikes down the law, Obama's first term will be wasted.
"One thing we already know," Romney states on the campaign trail, "We already know it's bad policy and it's gotta go."
Doctor John Bennett, the CEO of Capital District Physicians Health Plan (CDPHP), says either way the court rules will have an impact on his business. Bennett believes polarization of the issue detracts from achieving meaningful progress.
"It cheapens the debate," Bennett asserts. "There's no longer intelligent debate about ideas. There's just posturing and screaming and yelling. I think it cheapens the whole thing."
"We really need to be where the rest of the industrialized world is," says Alice Brody, spokes woman for Single Payer NY, one of several advocacy groups that will rally outside the State Capitol on Thursday.
Brody supports the Affordable Care Act although she also concedes it won't remedy the nation's entire health care dilemma.
"We will still have fundamental problems in the system that have not been addressed," she opines. "We think that really the country has no other position because health care costs in this country are absolutely off the charts."
Even though most Americans say they would welcome most parts of the measure, the main controversy arises over the requirement that most Americans have to purchase health care or else pay a fine -- the "individual mandate" clause.
"We all have bodies. We all are human beings and we all have health," Dr. Bennett says. "We all are going to get sick so there's no human being that can opt out of the health care system."
Twenty-six states, led by Florida, argue that individuals cannot be forced to buy insurance -- or any product -- that they neither want nor need.