By CNN's Jack Cafferty:
The Supreme Court reminded us all in an instant Thursday morning what an enormous impact these nine justices can have on the lives of millions of Americans.
And what came as a surprise to many was that Chief Justice John Roberts, a George W. Bush appointee, broke with the conservatives and sided with the court's liberal justices in favor of Obamacare and the individual mandate.
In a way it was curiously refreshing, whether you agree with the court's decision or not.
That's because many have come to believe that politics have played an outsize role in the high court's decisions in recent years. It probably really got going in 2000, with Bush v. Gore, which effectively handed the presidency to Bush.
Then two years ago came the Citizens United ruling allowing unlimited spending by corporations and unions on elections as long as it's independent of campaigns.
Whatever the reasons, there has been a marked decline in the Supreme Court's approval rating.
A recent poll found 44% of Americans approve of how the high court handles its job - down from 80% in 1994.
The New York Times/CBS Poll shows an overwhelming 76% of those surveyed say the Supreme Court justices sometimes let their personal or political views influence their decisions. Only 13% think the court's decisions are based only on legal analysis.
But the court's critical ruling Thursday might move the needle once again when it comes to how we view the highest court in the land.
Here’s my question to you: How does today's health care ruling affect your opinion of the Supreme Court?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Most of the world's extra body fat is attached to bodies living right here in the U.S.
New data from the UN and the World Health Organization shows that the entire adult global population is nearly 17 million tons overweight.
And researchers in London found that while the average global body weight is 137 pounds, the average weight in North America is 178 pounds.
In other words we are 41 pounds heavier on average than the rest of the world.
Not shocking since 2/3 of the U.S. is either overweight or obese. But wait, there's more:
While North America has only 6% of the world's population, it makes up a third of the world's weight due to obesity.
Compare that to Asia which has 61% of the world's population but only 13% of its weight due to obesity.
One researcher tells the BBC that if every country had the same fatness we have in the U.S. it would be like an extra billion people of average weight.
And scientists say this global fatness is a real concern. It's straining the world's food supply and environmental resources. Fatter people need more energy - and they eat more.
This means the competition for environmental resources isn't always about population growth, "when it comes down to it, it's not how many mouths there are to feed, it is how much flesh there is on the planet." And we've got plenty of flesh to spare here.
Experts suggest the best way to fight global fatness is programs that encourage more physical activity - like walking and cycling.
Here’s my question to you: What does it mean if most of the world’s excess body fat is in the U.S.?
Increasingly young Americans can no longer afford to get sick.
A new report shows that millions of young adults are skipping necessary care because of rising health care costs.
The survey put out by Commonwealth Fund shows 41% of those between 19 and 29-years-old failed to get medical care because it's too expensive. When it comes to uninsured adults, that number jumps to 60%.
There a lot of implications to this - none of them good.
Young adults are not filling prescriptions, not getting recommended tests or treatments, avoiding doctor visits and not seeking specialist care they need.
Doctors say young adults often stop listening to medical advice once they hear how much treatment it will cost.
And those who actually do decide to get medical care wind up with loads of debt.
36% of young adults had problems paying off their medical bills - or paid the bills over time.
Some young people say they've used up all their savings to pay medical bills. Others have taken on credit card debt or have been unable to pay off student loans.
Still others say they've put off education or career plans because of medical money issues; or they say they haven't been able to pay for things like food or rent.
Experts say growing medical debt is in part due to "the tremendous cost shift" to patients because of high-deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance.
The Commonwealth Fund says that President Obama's health care law has helped more young adults get insurance because they can stay on their parents' plans until 26.
But if the Supreme Court strikes down Obamacare - and we'll know soon enough - young Americans might face even more medical troubles.
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
The fate of the Affordable Care Act now lies in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Although no one knows for sure which way the landmark case will go, last week's oral arguments did not seem promising for the Obama administration. Experts said they believe the individual mandate - and perhaps the whole health care law - is in jeopardy.
Supporters tell Politico that if the law goes down there could be significant ripple effects. They say that other federal laws could be on the firing line - including environmental one such as the Endangered Species and Clean Water acts as well as federal regulation of the labor market and laws preventing employment discrimination.
But opponents of the health care overhaul say liberals are just using "the sky is falling"-scare tactics.
Plus, they suggest if the Supreme Court upholds the individual mandate that could lead to future mandates, such as requirements to buy health food or gym memberships.
The Supreme Court decision is expected in June. And whichever way the court rules, there's no doubt it will be a political lightning rod for both parties coming just a few months before the presidential election.
Meanwhile, as Americans wait for the Supreme Court to decide, health care costs just keep going up.
It's estimated the cost to cover the typical family of four under an employer plan will top $20,000 this year, according to CNNMoney. That's up 7% from last year and would be the fifth year in a row health care costs rose 7% or 8%.
And even though employers pick up much of that tab, you can bet they're passing on their rising costs to the rest of us.
Here’s my question to you: If Obamacare falls, what's next?
If the Supreme Court rules the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional this summer, it would be a huge embarrassment for President Barack Obama.
Health care reform has been the president's signature issue. He spent his first two years in office - and a whole lot of political capital - getting this thing through Congress.
And now - two years later - the health care law's not looking so healthy.
CNN's Jeffrey Toobin says he thinks the law will be struck down, describing the Supreme Court hearings as a "train wreck" for the Obama administration.
Some would argue it's been a train wreck from the start. Remember Congress crafted this 2,700-page monstrosity behind closed doors. No transparency for the public but plenty of access for the lobbyists. Few lawmakers even read it. Then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats, "We have to pass the bill so that you can find what's in it." Real statesmanship.
Not everyone agrees that a Supreme Court rejection would hurt the president politically.
CNN's James Carville says it would be "the best thing that has ever happened to the Democratic Party." Carville says Democrats would be able to show they tried, and when health care costs keep rising, they could lay the blame on the GOP's shoulders.
Some say if the Supreme Court rules against it, Republicans will lose a top election issue - the repeal of what they call “Obamacare.”
Others suggest the health care law won't be a major election issue if Mitt Romney is the GOP nominee because he created similar legislation when he was governor of Massachusetts.
Here’s my question to you: How will the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare affect the president's chances for re-election?
While the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments about the constitutionality of Obamacare, only a few hundred members of the public and press can actually see what is happening as it's happening.
That's because the high court decided that there would be no televised coverage of the historic health care hearings.
Lawmakers, media and open government groups had pushed for the court to break with tradition and let TV cameras in to broadcast the three days of oral arguments.
Some say the Supreme Court's practice of no TV cameras is behind the times.
But the best they could get are daily audio recordings and transcripts of the hearings. The court says they're releasing these because of quote "extraordinary public interest" in the health care case.
No kidding. What these nine justices decide could have major effects on the political and economic future of this country. Not to mention the health care for millions of individual Americans.
Which is why polls show Americans overwhelmingly in favor of televising the arguments before the nation's highest court.
A new CNN/ORC poll shows 61% of those surveyed say the Supreme Court should allow TV cameras into hearings. Only 35% say no.
In December, Congress held hearings on the so called Cameras in the Courtroom Act. Supporters say TV coverage of the high court's hearings would provide more transparency.
Opponents suggest allowing cameras in would detract from the integrity and decorum of the institution. Baloney. That court is conducting the people's business, and the people have every right to witness what goes on.
Here’s my question to you: Should the Supreme Court arguments over health care be televised?
Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.
And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.
"Obamacare" went on trial today with the Supreme Court starting three days of arguments on the constitutionality of President Barack Obama's landmark health care law.
And after today's 90-minute session, it seems like a majority of the justices want to decide the case now instead of waiting another two years until the full law goes into effect.
On Tuesday, the justices will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the individual mandate, which is the key to this whole showdown.
Twenty-six states are suing the government. They claim the health care law is unconstitutional because of the "individual mandate" provision, which requires most Americans to purchase health insurance by 2014 or face a financial penalty.
Republicans have been out in full force slamming the law. All of the GOP presidential candidates say they will try to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act if elected. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says repeal of Obamacare will be the first order of business if Republicans win control of the Senate in November.
Democrats have their work cut out for them defending all this, and they don't seem to be getting much help from Obama. He didn't even bother to publicly mark the bill's two year anniversary last week - something he has been only too eager to do in the past.
This might be the reason: Polls suggest many Americans just don't like the health reform law. A new CNN/ORC Poll shows 50% of those surveyed disapprove of the law. 43% approve.
When asked how the Supreme Court should rule, more than 70% say the high court should overturn all or part of Obamacare.
Here’s my question to you: What's the future for President Obama's health care reform law?
Taking care of yourself is rapidly becoming an economic issue of staggering proportions. In fact, you may want to grab a salad on the way home and get right on the treadmill when you get there. The day is coming in less than 20 years when health care costs may consume your entire paycheck.
In other words, illness will one day soon simply be unaffordable.
A new report by the Annals of Family Medicine suggests that less than 20 years from now, the average American family's medical costs will surpass their entire income.
It's no secret that health care costs have been growing faster than just about everything else in this country for decades.
And while that trend has slowed somewhat recently, the authors of this study say medical costs are still going up.
In 2009 and 2010, total spending on health care grew at a slower rate than any time on record. But it still grew, and it's going to keep on growing.
Then of course there's so-called Obamacare.
Critics say the president's controversial health care reform plan will only make matters worse.
The doctors who put this paper together say Obamacare is a "great first step, but it's not enough to get us where we need to go."
Expect the Supreme Court to light up the 2012 presidential race when it rules on President Obama's health care law just months before the election.
The high court has agreed to decide the constitutionality of the president's signature piece of legislation. The legal challenge comes from a joint filing by 26 states led by Florida.
The justices will hear two major questions:
Whether the so-called individual mandate is unconstitutional - can the government force you to buy insurance? And if so, whether the entire 2,000-plus page law should be scrapped.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments in late February or March and rule by June. If they strike it down, it would be a huge embarrassment for President Obama.
Yet the White House says it's confident the law will be found constitutional, and Politico reports that the president is so confident that he didn't even try to stop the Supreme Court from fast-tracking the case.
Mr. Obama is gambling that if the court upholds the law, it will validate his epic, two-year battle with Congress. And if they strike it down, it will fire up the Democratic base and energize party donors.
But there are also risks: If the court upholds the law, it could fire up the president's opposition even more. Remember the tea party?
The revival of the health care debate could also hurt the president in some swing states where his health care push alienated Independents.
Finally, if President Obama can't run on health care, it's not exactly like he can run on the economy or cutting the national debt.
Here's my question to you: What will it mean to President Obama if the Supreme Court overturns his health care law?
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Smokers and fat Americans could soon be paying a lot more for their health care.
Reuters reports a growing number of companies are raising health care costs for so-called unhealthy employees.
Translation: people who don't quit smoking, lose weight or lower their cholesterol.
In the past few years, many employers have been trying to get workers to voluntarily improve their health to help bring down soaring insurance costs. They've introduced weight loss programs or classes to help people stop smoking.
But not enough employees have signed up or improved their health. So instead, companies are now going to start making these employees pay more.
One recent survey shows the use of penalties is expected to climb next year to include almost 40% of large and medium-sized companies. That's up from 19% this year and only 8% in 2009.
Penalties include higher insurance premiums and deductibles for those who aren't participating in the company's health programs – and those engaged in risky health behavior, like smoking.
Wal-Mart, which insures more than 1 million people, is one such company. It says smokers consume about 25% more health care services than nonsmokers.
Starting next year, Wal-Mart will charge employees who smoke higher premiums, along with offering a free program to help them quit.
Critics worry these kinds of penalties will hurt poor people the most, since health care costs consume a bigger part of their income and they may not have as much access to gyms or fresh food.
Here's my question to you: Should smokers and fat people pay more for health care?
Tune in to "The Situation Room" at 4 p.m. ET to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.
And we'd love to know where you're writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.
Jack Cafferty sounds off hourly on the Situation Room on the stories crossing his radar. Now, you can check in with Jack online to see what he's thinking and weigh in with your own comments online and on TV.
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