(CBS News) In the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, then-Sen. Barack Obama ran a campaign ad blasting Hillary Clinton's health reform plan for including a so-called "individual mandate." His ad argued the mandate "forces everyone to buy insurance, even if you can't afford it, and you pay a penalty if you don't ... It's not that people don't want health care; it's that they can't afford it."
But after winning the White House, President Obama told Congress a mandate was an essential part of improving the nation's health care system. "Unless everybody does their part, many of the insurance reforms we seek -- especially requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions -- just can't be achieved," he said.
Today, Mr. Obama's two arguments will play out before the Supreme Court, which could end up striking down the individual mandate as unconstitutional. The court will also consider whether taking down the mandate means bringing down the entire law, or possibly just other portions of it.Continue »
(CBS News) WASHINGTON -- Amid the thumping drumbeats and random outbursts of her opposition, Jenny Beth Martin, the leader of the Tea Party Patriots, tried to get her microphone in working order outside of the Supreme Court Tuesday.
"I'm Jenny Beth Martin with Tea Party Patriots, and we're here today to represent the nearly 75 percent of Americans who want... Can they hear me?" Martin said into the mic, interrupting herself.
She started again, "I'm Jenny Beth Martin..." And then she stopped again. "Oh my god," she uttered into the microphone in frustration.
The noise of protesters continued unabated on the second day of Supreme Court hearings reviewing the constitutionality of President Obama's 2010 health care overhaul. Today, the court heard arguments getting to the meat of the issue: Whether the federal government can require nearly all Americans to acquire health insurance.Continue »
CBS News Poll analysis by the CBS News Polling Unit: Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto.
As the Supreme Court begins to hear arguments about the 2010 health care overhaul, just one in four say the high court should keep President Obama's signature legislative achievement intact, according to a new CBS News/ New York Times poll.
Thirty-eight percent say the entire law should be abolished, according the poll, conducted March 21-25. Another 29 percent would like the high court to strike down only the requirement that nearly all Americans obtain health insurance if they do not have it.
The court on Tuesday will hear arguments on whether the so-called individual mandate - which will require nearly all Americans to acquire insurance or pay a penalty -- is unconstitutional. The case tackles not only a hotly-debated legal matter, but also the most controversial aspect of Mr. Obama's health care law.
When asked directly about the mandate, which goes into effect in 2014, 51 percent of Americans said they disapprove of it, while 45 percent said they approve. Most Republicans and independents oppose the mandate, while Democrats support it.Poll: Support for war in Afghanistan hits all-time low
Poll: 47% disapprove of Obama health care law
Read the complete poll (PDF) Continue »
CBS News Poll analysis by the CBS News Polling Unit: Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto.
As the Supreme Court embarks on three days of historic arguments over President Obama's health care law - two years after the law was enacted - Americans remain skeptical about the legislation.
A CBS News/New York Times poll shows 47 percent of Americans disapprove of the president's Affordable Care Act, including 30 percent who strongly disapprove. In the poll, conducted March 21-25, only 36 percent of those questioned said they support the law either somewhat or strongly.Continue »
In an election year in which Republican voters seem less than enthused about their leaders, the GOP establishment would like nothing more than to reignite the Tea Party base that came out in force in 2010. This week's Supreme Court case reviewing President Obama's health care law could do the trick.
Alternatively, the GOP's renewed emphasis on health care could backfire, leaving Democrats motivated.
The court's rulings and the consequences are hard to know at this point. The one certainty is that the court's consideration of the case is putting Mr. Obama's controversial health care law back in the spotlight squarely in the middle of the 2012 presidential race -- a move sure to rekindle the partisan passion that in part drove Democratic voters in 2008 and Republican voters in 2010.
On Monday, the court begins three days of hearings on the law, starting with the question of whether now is even the appropriate time for the Supreme Court to take up the case.Continue »
"President Obama's program is an unfolding disaster for the American economy, a budget-busting entitlement, and a dramatic new federal intrusion into our lives," Romney said in a USA Today
Romney said here that while his GOP rivals have all said they would repeal the health care law, he is the only one who has offered a replacement. He said his plan would allow states to go in different directions and any federal role would be to strengthen the private insurance market. "I'd like, instead of having the government come in and mandate price and cost controls, I would like to have individuals have a greater incentive to shop around, and make this act more like a market," he said.Continue »
The 15-member, presidentially-appointed committee, known as the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), is scheduled to begin recommending cost-control measures for Medicare in 2014. Republicans argued the yet-to-be-established panel is a rationing board that would bypass congressional authority and punt on true Medicare reform.
Congressman Phil Roe (R-TN), a former physician, said during House Floor debate that"we don't want Washington-based bureaucrats getting in between the doctor-patient relationship. Decisions should not be made by health insurance and not 15 bureaucrats in Washington. It should be made between a doctor and their family."Continue »
The decision in the case, which is expected over the summer, will have a significant - and unpredictable - impact on the presidential race. If the Supreme Court strikes down the law, it could energize Republicans and deal a major blow to the president's stature. But it could also rally Democrats angered by the decision to rally behind a president who has not always lived up to their expectations. If the high court upholds the law, it could validate the president in his effort to push through the controversial legislation but also reinvigorate conservatives whose angry, vocal opposition to the law dominated headlines in the summer of 2010.
The key issue up for consideration will be the mandate that Americans purchase health insurance, over which lower courts have been split. The Republican presidential candidates - some of whom backed a mandate for health care coverage, on the state and/or federal level, in the past - rail against the provision as reflecting overreach by an out-of-control federal government, and they are vowing to repeal it if elected if the court does not strike it down.Continue »
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Friday dismissed radio host Rush Limbaugh's disparaging remarks about student activist Sandra Fluke as "absurd."
"He's being absurd, but that's you know, an entertainer can be absurd," Santorum said on CNN. "He's in a very different business than I am."
On his radio show, Limbaugh bashed Fluke as a "slut" and a "prostitute" because, in the context of President Obama's new health care rule calling for complete coverage of women's preventive health services, she has advocated for employers to pay for contraception.
Republicans have generally opposed the policy change, even after the administration modified it to address concerns about religious freedom. Santorum told CNN, "I'm concerned about the public policy of this president imposing his values on people, people of faith who morally object to the government telling them they have to do something, which they believe is a grave moral wrong."Continue »
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, who staunchly opposes abortion rights, is objecting to a bill mandating that women receive ultrasounds before having an abortion, and has requested the bill be amended to "explicitly state that no woman in Virginia will have to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound involuntarily," he said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
The Virginia House of Delegates passed the bill this afternoon with an amendment aimed at smoothing over the controversy the bill has sparked. Over the last week, women's health advocates nationwide have criticized the bill, particularly in light of a provision that would have required some women to have the ultrasounds via a physically invasive transvaginal probe.
"I believe there is no need to direct by statute that further invasive ultrasound procedures be done," McDonnell said in the statement. "I am requesting that the General Assembly amend this bill to explicitly state that no woman in Virginia will have to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound involuntarily. I am asking the General Assembly to state in this legislation that only a transabdominal, or external, ultrasound will be required to satisfy the requirements to determine gestational age."Continue »
Campaigning in in Tioga, N.D., the former senator from Pennsylvania compared the current health insurance system to automobile insurance, suggesting that the latter works because consumers make claims only when they have car accidents, not when they incur routine expenses like an oil change. Health insurance, he said, "isn't to pay all of your bills."
"How many people turn in your oil changes to your insurance company? Nobody," Santorum said. "How many people, if you had a $500 deductible insurance policy got in a little accident and it cost $700 to repair your car, how many people would turn in the $700 claim? Nobody. Why? Because your insurance premium will go up, right?"Continue »
Republicans are keeping up the pressure on the Obama administration to walk back its new rule on birth control coverage, with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell warning today, "If they don't, Congress will act."
"Make no mistake: the Obama administration's decision to force religious hospitals, charities, and schools to comply with a mandate that violates their religious views is abhorrent to the foundational principles of our nation," McConnell said on the Senate floor.
The Obama administration is requiring employers to provide full health care coverage for contraception as part of its health care reforms. The rule exempts houses of worship like churches or synagogues, but other nonprofits with religious affiliations -- for instance, like a Catholic university -- will have to comply. Those institutions are being granted an extra year to comply with the rule.Continue »
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Monday stepped up the Republican charge that President Obama is infringing upon "religious liberty" by requiring faith-based organizations provide birth control coverage for their employees.
The Romney campaign on Monday was promoting a petition, which says, "The Obama administration is at it again. They are now using Obamacare to impose a secular vision on Americans who believe that they should not have their religious freedom taken away... If you have had enough of the Obama administration's attacks on religious liberty, stand with Mitt and sign the petition."
The Obama administration last month announced that it would require employers to provide full health care coverage for contraception. The rule exempts houses of worship like churches or synagogues, but other nonprofits with religious affiliations -- for instance, a Catholic university or its affiliated hospital -- will have to comply.
Conservatives have slammed the new rule as an assault on religious freedom -- something the GOP presidential candidates accused the president of even before the new rule was finalized. The administration and its supporters, meanwhile, continue to defend the birth control rule and argue that the GOP criticism will backfire in the general election.Continue »
Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET
Three days after pulling its funding for cancer screenings from Planned Parenthood, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation on Friday apologized for the decision and reversed course.
"Our only goal for our granting process is to support women and families in the fight against breast cancer," Nancy G. Brinker, founder and CEO of the foundation, said in a statement. "Amending our criteria will ensure that politics has no place in our grant process. We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities."
The cancer charity initially announced it was pulling funding for the women's health organization because Planned Parenthood is the subject of investigations by Republican members of Congress for allegedly using federal dollars toward providing abortions. The Komen Foundation said its decision was not political, and in her statement today, Brinker maintained that it was not about politics.Continue »
Updated: 6:01 p.m. ET
Republican in the House this year have taken up legislation like the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" that's won them praise from the anti-abortion rights movement -- a powerful conservative constituency -- and that has emboldened anti-abortion rights activists across the country.
But at the same time, steps by lawmakers and activists to limit abortion rights and thwart Planned Parenthood in the past year have also helped energize and mobilize liberal activists.
The uproar over the decision by cancer charity The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation to pull funding from Planned Parenthood provides the latest example. The Komen Foundation maintains its decision was not political, but the reaction has nevertheless been strong.
After the news broke, Planned Parenthood raised more than $400,000 from more than 6,000 online donors by Wednesday afternoon to help cover the cost of breast cancer screenings. Between those gifts and a gift of $250,000 Planned Parenthood received from the family foundation of Dallas philanthropist Lee Fike, the organization nearly makes up for the lost Komen funding -- Planned Parenthood said it received roughly $680,000 worth of Komen grants in 2011.Continue »