Supreme Court Sets Obama Healthcare Argument


The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will hear three days of oral arguments on various pieces of the health reform law just days after the law’s two-year anniversary. The arguments are scheduled to last 5 ½ hours over 3 days, March 26-28. One of the longest arguments in recent years. The schedule further confirms the expectation that the court will issue a ruling on the healthcare law next June, at the height of the 2012 campaign.

According to the Supreme Court’s argument calendar published Monday, the justices will spread discussions of four separate legal questions about the law over the three days, with the largest chunk of time going to the question of whether Congress had the power to compel the purchase of health insurance by 2014.

Can the federal government actually force American’s to buy health insurance? On March 26, the legal challenge to require all American’s to buy health insurance starting 2014 is set to be discussed. This will determine if Congress’s passage of the individual mandate exceeded the legislature’s powers to regulate interstate commerce or lay and collect taxes under Article I of the Constitution. Many local business’s have had this discussion and many are not in favor of this requirement. Any change can be resisted among business owners. However, there are many business owners who choose not to buy health insurance or simply cannot afford it in this recession.

The center of the battle is whether or not congress overstepped it’s powers by implementing the purchase requirement known as the mandate. Two hours will be allotted on March 27 for this.

March 28, ninety minute arguments on whether the rest of the law can survive if the mandate is struck down. An additional hour of argument will address 26 states’ claim that the law improperly expands Medicaid by coercively conditioning states’ receipt of federal funds on their participation in the new health care exchange system.

On March 23, 2010, Obama signed into law the ACA and the related Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which together created the most sweeping reform of healthcare in a generation, greatly expanding regulations in many areas and setting the goal of expanding insurance access by about 32 million people. Critics have called it an illegal expansion of federal power and oversight.

In November 2011, the court indicated it would spread the arguments on the health law’s four issues over just two days and was extended to three. The suit was brought by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business.

Ruling expected in June, right in the middle of 2012 elections.

Butch Zemar

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