Grassley Wants Fresh Start on Health Care Law

By James Q. Lynch, Reporter

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) talks with reporters outside the Senate floor before a vote in the United States Capitol building in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, June 23, 2011. (Stephen Mally/Freelance)

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By Belinda Yeung

DES MOINES, Iowa - If the Supreme Court is going to strike down any part of the health care reform legislation, then it would be better if the justices simply tossed the entire “ObamaCare” package, according to Sen. Chuck Grassley.

“For us in the Congress, it would be a whole lot better if the whole law is determined unconstitutional because then you start with a clean slate,” the Iowa Republican said Wednesday.

Grassley has asked the court to allow live television coverage of its historic ruling on President Barack Obama’s health care law, which is expected to be issued this month. He said he expects — at a minimum — the individual mandate provision to be declared unconstitutional.

How the Supreme Court will decide is unclear. It may uphold the law, strike it down entirely or do something in between. Skeptical questioning by the court’s conservative justices during oral arguments this spring has fueled speculation that the court may invalidate the so-called individual mandate, which requires residents to have health coverage.

If the entire law was thrown out, the senator said, Congress would start with a bill shorter and more focused than the 2,700-page bill that is being challenged in the Supreme Court. It would be “a little more realistic in what it is trying to accomplish, and a little more response to the individualism of Americans and preserving the private insurance system we have,” Grassley said.

No matter how the justices rule, Grassley said, there are a number of actions Congress can take to contain health care costs. Those include allowing the sale of insurance across state lines, encouraging more use of health savings accounts and setting up more vigorous risk pools.

The marketplace, he added, is taking care of some of these issues. Some companies have announced that regardless of the court ruling they will continue some provisions such as covering children up to age 26 under their parents’ insurance policies.

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