» By PHILIP SPARN – psparn@my.apsu.edu

The constant debate surrounding the issue of President Obama’s health-care reform law is again being re-ignited as the Republican presidential primary race narrows and the 2012 elections near. The Supreme Court heard this matter last week and is expected to make its ruling on the law’s constitutionality later this summer.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as “ObamaCare” by conservatives, has continued to spark controversy, disagreement and support since its passage in 2010. Critics claim that this law expands the constitutional power of the federal government, costs too much and will lead to a government-run health-care system. While advocates of the health-care reform law claim this law reduces health-care costs, it provides increased access to health care and implements vital patient and consumer protections.

The controversy of the law is led primarily by the law’s mandate, which requires everyone to buy health insurance, according to David Kanervo, chair of the Political Science department. “Some see it as big government stepping in and telling them what they have to buy and taking away their free choice,” Kanervo said.

Strong critics of the law, which include U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn and U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn., believe this law should be completely repealed, if the court does not rule it unconstitutional first.

“It is imperative that the Supreme Court repeal ‘ObamaCare’ in order to ensure Americans of their constitutional rights and liberties,” Fincher stated in a press release.

According to Blackburn, the law is filled with unworkable levels of bureaucracy and puts federal bureaucrats in charge of the health insurance market. “ObamaCare will devastate Americans’ health care system while it increases the federal deficit,” Blackburn said. “Under Obamacare, we’re losing our choices while the costs of health care are on the rise … We simply can’t afford a forced health-care plan that doesn’t work, raises taxes and many Americans believe to be unconstitutional.”

Kristen Hershey, assistant professor of Nursing and former emergency room nurse, believes the health-care reform law does a good job of focusing on preventive care and ensuring everybody has equal access to health care.

“The new law will help keep people without health insurance from showing up at the emergency room with catastrophic ailments or conditions which could have been prevented or diagnosed earlier if they had access to a physician and preventive care,” Hershey said. “Preventive care and equal access to health care can improve people’s health and help save a lot of money as well. This keeps hospitals, premium owners and tax payers from footing the bill for those who show up at the emergency room without insurance but needing emergency care.”

Clarksville Women for Obama, a local group of Obama supporters focused on women’s issues, held an open community forum on Saturday, March 31, to raise awareness for the laws benefits at a local restaurant, Singleton’s on Fort Campbell Boulevard.

The forum focused on clearing up misconceptions about Obamacare and informing others about the health-care reform law’s benefits, according to Wanda McMoore, the event’s organizer and critical care nurse.

Supporters of the law, including McMoore, spoke at the forum about the Affordable Care Act’s benefits and what would be at stake if the law were to be repealed or ruled unconstitutional.

“I am worried about the law being overturned because that could mean all of the ground gained for equal healthcare access, preventive care and patient protections will be lost,” McMoore said.

McMoore pointed out young Americans less than 26 years old, women, the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions or critical illnesses all benefit the most from the new health-care reform law.

“This law helps ensure that everyone has equal access to health care and preventive care,” McMoore said. “This law will ensure that individuals aren’t denied coverage for pre-existing conditions or life-time caps on insurance plans … All of this will be taken away if the law is repealed or overturned.”

The Supreme Court is not expected to make their ruling on the law until late June. TAS