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Los Angeles Times, March 28, 2012

By Sara LessleyMarch 28, 2012

As the Supreme Court justices asked pointed questions about President Obama’s landmark healthcare law Tuesday, and the issue was being hotly debated outside the courtroom,  letter writers to The Times  emailed their own pointed observations of the day’s events.

Times staff writers David Savage and Noam Levey reported   Tuesday afternoon from Washington: “It is often difficult to tell from oral arguments exactly how the justices will vote, but from their questions, the four conservatives sounded as though they had made up their minds that the mandate is unconstitutional…. At several points, the liberal justices came to the aid of the government’s lawyer, but they appeared to make little headway with their conservative colleagues.”

Observed reader Bob Guarrera of Laguna Niguel:

“It’s apparent that the only ones looking at this issue with open minds are the conservatives. The liberals on the court have already made up their minds.”

The oral arguments prompted David Hudson of Valley Village to pen his own “very modest proposal”:

“Liberal America,  it’s time to wake up. ‘Obamacare’ is dead on arrival. Actually it never really arrived. Just the promise of ‘universal healthcare’ briefly on the horizon.

But when the Supreme Court issues its ruling, that dream will disappear.

So let’s adjust our expectations.  Every American needs to stop taking what he or she can’t pay for.

Let’s start with hospital care. Let’s abolish all the rules and regulations that require that hospitals treat anyone who walks into an emergency room. This  simple change would save our hospitals millions. Maybe billions. Everyone who has insurance would benefit.

What happens to the people the hospital turns away? They suffer the natural consequence of not having health insurance — the body heals itself or, it doesn’t.

Seems harsh, but there is an upside.  First to benefit is the undertaker. His business will be so busy, he’ll need to hire more people. And that’s not the only job created.

So let’s not mourn the death of Obamacare.  Let’s celebrate the opportunity it gives us to make healthcare healthy again — requiring people who don’t have insurance to pay for their care instead of  saddling the rest of us with their bill.”

Thinking specifically of the Supreme Court justices, Mark Kempsell of Trabuco Canyon wrote with a suggestion:

“How would the Supreme Court decide if the justices (and their immediate families) were immediately stripped of the healthcare privileges that ‘we the people’ have provided and were forced to seek out private insurance? Same with Congress.

I guarantee we would see meaningful healthcare reform take on a new level of importance with the predominantly white, wealthy, elitist, well-taken-care-of group in the capital.”

And for the nonelected, nonappointed among us, Diana Dixon-Davis of Chatsworth emailed her advice:

“If there are individuals who do not want to share in the expenses for ‘general welfare’ and contribute to a healthcare system via universal insurance, I have a suggestion: They could either carry around sufficient cash, or their bank account number and balance on a ‘medical alert bracelet.’  The bracelet should be labeled: ‘Treat only to the dollar limit in wallet or in this bank account.’

These individuals should not be allowed to run up huge medical bills and then make the rest of us pay their expenses, as Mary Brown, one of the plaintiffs in the ‘anti-Obamacare’ lawsuits, has done.”

But Tony Cummings of Rancho Cucamonga  faults the healthcare plan itself:

“All Obama had to do was to extend the benefits of existing Medicare to individuals starting at age 40, and allow for co-payment for individuals between 18 and 39, and that’s it!

Done! Universal healthcare, U.S. style.

Can you believe that a failed Clinton healthcare plan could be followed a decade later with a goofy, wishy-washy Obama plan?”

And Jerome Helman of Venice thinks the debate is missing a key piece:

“The constitutional debate unfolding for all is fascinating, remarkable and informative but ignores the two-ton elephant in the room.  The gigantic health insurers and pharmaceutical and medical equipment industries have inflated our healthcare costs beyond the limits of affordability.

For the Affordable Care Act to survive beyond the Supreme Court decision (I am confident it will be adjudicated in the affirmative), price controls — the basis of a single-payer system — must be established, as the free market has failed in the healthcare arena.”

Stay tuned for more debate — in the Supreme Court’s chambers, on Capitol Hill, across the country and among The Times’ letter writers.