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Republicans, Democrats jockey before Supreme Court health-care ruling

The political world is waiting for the Supreme Court to hand down its ruling on President Obama’s sweeping reform of the health-insurance system. A decision could come as early as Monday.  

By Staff writer / June 17, 2012

Supporters of health care reform rally in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington on March 27, 2012, as the court continued hearing arguments on the health care law signed by President Obama.

Charles Dharapak/AP

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The political world is on pins and needles, waiting for the Supreme Court to hand down its ruling on President Obama’s sweeping reform of the health-insurance system. A decision could come as early as Monday.  

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At the White House, on Capitol Hill, in the Romney campaign, and inside interest groups, political players are preparing contingencies for the range of possible outcomes at the high court – from full affirmation of the law, to full rejection, to something in between.

Tough questioning from some justices, especially “swing” justice Anthony Kennedy, has led some observers to believe the individual mandate to purchase insurance – or even the entire law – could be ruled unconstitutional. But no matter how the court decides, the stakes are high, as Election Day draws closer.    

Publicly, Mr. Obama and his surrogates express confidence that the court will uphold the Affordable Care Act. Implementation is proceeding on schedule, they say. Still, at the White House correspondents’ dinner in April, the president joked: “In my first term, we passed health care reform. In my second term, I guess I’ll pass it again.”

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Administration officials have been attending meetings with groups that support his reform, strategizing about how to respond when the court rules. 

“The best way to demonstrate public outrage or public celebration about the decision is to stage an event that shows average people actually responding to the news,” said a May planning memo obtained by Bloomberg News from an official at the Herndon Alliance, a coalition that supports Obama’s reform.

At a White House forum June 11 for seniors, a top Obama aide made clear that she’s thought about the “what ifs.”

The changes already in place “are terribly important to people’s lives, now,” said Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. She spoke of the popular provisions that pay for the coverage gap for prescription drugs under Medicare and allow young adults up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ insurance.

Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have both been gaming out scenarios. The House Republican leadership put out talking points on what to say if the Supreme Court throws out some or all of the law.  

“Unless the court throws out the entire law, we need to repeal what is left of Obamacare and enact common-sense, step-by-step reforms that protect Americans’ access to the care they need, from the doctor they choose, at a lower cost,” said the memo.

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