For a better experience, click the Compatibility Mode icon above to turn off Compatibility Mode, which is only for viewing older websites.

Professors Barry Furrow and Robert Field Reflect on Supreme Court Health Care Case

April 09, 2012

Professors Barry Furrow and Robert Field, experts in the field of health law, discussed the Supreme Court Affordable Care Act case at the law school today.

Arguments on the Affordable Care Act case concluded on March 28. Field, who was in the courtroom for the second day of arguments, described the atmosphere as one of excitement and nervous anticipation before the justices took the bench.

The central issue in the case is whether Congress can exercise its constitutional interstate commerce power to mandate that the uninsured buy health care insurance, Field said. However, Field observed, rather than focus on the constitutional issues, the justices preferred to voice their ideological views of the law. Furrow agreed, adding that there was little focus on the economic impacts of the health care insurance law.

Both Furrow and Field commented that attorneys for both sides frequently danced around the issues, failing to provide responsive answers to the justices' questions. For example, Furrow said, both sides failed to point out that the individual mandate in the act would only apply to a small percentage of the population not insured through their employer or through state run programs. Furrow also added that little was done to explain the vast differences between health insurance, the economics of health insurance and other types of commerce such as car insurance.

Both Field and Furrow agreed that significant amount of case precedent exists to find the law constitutional, the question, however, is whether some of the justices will overturn that precedent to suit their ideological needs.

Furrow is a nationally known expert on health law whose research focuses on health care policy, regulation and finance, patient safety, patient privacy, mental health, provider accountability, medical ethics and bioethics, and legal issues of pain management. His recent article "Regulating Patient Safety: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" appears in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.

Field is also a nationally recognized expert on health policy and public health law whose research focuses on ethical issues in managed care, public policy and legal facets of health care reform and genetic screening. Field's op-ed for the Philadelphia Inquirer about the Affordable Care Act case can be found here. Field has also commented on the case in many media outlets. Read more here.