As the Supreme Court heard oral arguments over the Constitutionality of PPACA this week, all other news took second seat. The final verdict on whether PPACA stays or goes is expected in June, but for many, the argument will continue long after that.
Insurance broker Lior Avishay of LBA Insurance, in California, argues with Tea Partiers over the nuts and bolts of PPACA. Avishay took issue with Tea Party claims that Obamacare would resemble the health insurance system in California, and would restrict consumer choice. To claims that thanks to its own health care system, California now only had three carriers to choose from, Lior responded, "I wish that were the case. It would make my life simpler. There are are about twelve."
Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) made a snap appearance at the SCOTUS steps, not so much to argue for PPACA's repeal, but to point out how much Obamacare resembles Romneycare - the health plan Gov. Mitt Romney put in place in Massachusetts.
The privileged few able to secure tickets to attend the SCOTUS oral arguments in person had to camp out overnight to get them. Once allowed in, they had to pass through a gauntlet of security guards...and scalpers. Most of the observers were under 30 years of age.
Students for Life of America, a pro-life advocacy movement aimed at college students, made an appearance on Tuesday, March 27, as the individual mandate portion of PPACA underwent debate. Students for Life protested PPACA on the grounds that the law funded abortions and that its mandate to provide contraception in health plans trampled religious liberty.
A coordinated march for women's reproductive rights, organized by Planned Parenthood and NARAL dominated the scene before SCOTUS, drawing dozens, if not hundreds, of supporters. The central point of their rally was that PPACA does much to address women's health issues that prior to the law, had gone neglected or underserved by the private insurance market.
At the NARAL rally, Christina Turner told her story of how, as a rape victim, her precautionary HIV screening ultimately became a pre-existing condition that led to her loss of health insurance. Her occupation? Independent life and health insurance agent. Thanks to PPACA, she said, "rape can no longer be classified as a pre-existing condition."
While there were many stories that told how how people had suffered from aggressive claims treatment, or lost coverage due to pre-existing conditions, there was little specific talk of the insurance industry at most of the protests and rallies. What discussion was present tended to speak vaguely of health insurance in general, and of no one company in specific. There was almost no representation of the industry to be found.
This Capitol police officer is not nearly as Orwellian as he looks. Most of the officers guarding the top of the SCOTUS steps had their own cameras out to take souvenir photos and video of the sometimes circus-like crowds below. Even by Washington, DC standards, the number of people who showed up to protest and to rally was out of the ordinary.
Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) speaks at a Tea Party rally on the SCOTUS steps on Tuesday, March 27. Her presence drew intense media coverage as she spoke of her efforts to repeal PPACA in Congress and her hopes that the Supreme Court would overturn the law. Regardless of the SCOTUS outcome, she encouraged her fellow Tea Partiers never to stop opposing the health care reform law, which she characterized as un-Constitutional.
On Tuesday, March 27, Americans for Financial Prosperity held what would be, by far, the largest rally of the week, with an event on the Upper Senate Park that drew thousands of people deeply opposed to PPACA. Many considered PPACA to be socialist, un-Constitutional, financially irresponsible, and the sign of encroaching federal tyranny. Repeatedly the crowd chanted, "Kill the Bill! Kill the Bill!"