It’s official – today is the day the Supreme Court justices consider the widely debated challenge to the Obama administration’s health-care overhaul.
The court will hear a challenge brought by a group of Republican governors and attorneys general from 26 states, the National Federation of Independent Business and two individual plaintiffs.
There are multiple issues in the case, but the key question is whether or not Congress overstepped its constitutional powers when it required most individuals to carry health insurance or pay a penalty.
The court expects to hear oral arguments in March, and a decision is expected by the end of June – which puts the court’s ruling right in the heat of battle of the 2012 presidential campaign.
Those opposed to the law see the requirement that all Americans carry insurance as an “unprecedented intrusion on individual liberty”, according to the November 14th wsj.com article, “Supreme Court Agrees to Rule on Health Law”. They argue Congress is not allowed to use its interstate commerce powers to regulate citizens who choose not to participate in the health-insurance market.
The Obama administration justifies the insurance mandate with the following logic, per the wsj.com article: because the uninsured impose enormous costs on the United States health care system, requiring coverage is a legitimate way to address this national crisis. In addition, requiring coverage is a critical part of the insurance reform, “which require insurers to accept all prospective customers, even if they have pre-existing medical conditions.”
Per the article, in a statement today, the White House was quoted as saying: “We know the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and are confident the Supreme Court will agree.”
Also per the article, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), who has attempted to repeal the law, was quoted as having said it “represents an unprecedented and unconstitutional expansion of the federal government into the daily lives of every American”, and has requested the Supreme Court strike it down.
If that happens, it has said it will rule on the remainder of the health care package. Those opposed to so called “Obamacare” want to nullify the entire thing. However, the Obama administration believes the majority of the law’s provisions that aren’t connected to the mandate should remain in place even if the insurance requirement is struck down.
The article speculates that all eyes, and ears, will be on Justice Antonin Scalia. A conservative justice, he joined two rulings in 1995 and 2000 that placed limits Congress’ commerce power. However, Justice Scalia, in 2005, embraced a broader view of that power in 2005, saying Congress had the authority to prohibit seriously ill Californians from growing marijuana for their personal medical use, even though a state law allowed it.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is a United States federal statute signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. The law (along with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010) is the principal health care reform legislation of the 111th United States Congress. PPACA reforms certain aspects of the private health insurance industry and public health insurance programs, increases insurance coverage of pre-existing conditions, expands access to insurance to over 30 million Americans, and increases projected national medical spending despite lowering projected Medicare spending under previous law.