Chief Justice John Roberts doesn’t remind anybody of Diana Ross so much, but don’t be surprised if a vocal group of Supremes pop up in the coming news cycle. For three days starting on March 26, the U.S. Supreme Court will entertain a nearly unprecedented six hours of arguments pivoting around the Individual Mandate in the Affordable Care Act. This particular tour continues through June, with most scribes predicting that the Supremes will be splitting up 5-4.
If only the keys to healthcare system transformation were as simple as a pop song – or maybe they are. After all, some of the best pop music offers something we can all get behind, a tune everyone can dance to, and – like the original Supremes – a sublime multi-part harmony. Unfortunately, the odds are not so great that Roberts’ Supremes will offer up anything like harmony.
Beyond the judicial branch, findings from six years of Massachusetts law indicate that something like an individual mandate basically works not only to improve coverage and access, but also to change the working practices of healthcare providers in order to bring down costs. Should these Supremes strike down the mandate, and the law along with it, it’s possible that health care faces a future of “Nothing by Heartaches“.