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Health Care Reform Update

November 18, 2011

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court announced that next March it would hear arguments regarding President Obama’s health care overhaul. This case could shake up the political landscape as voters begin to decide if they want to re-elect President Obama.

A decision on the constitutionality of the law is expected to happen in late June, just a little over 4 months before the election in 2012. This could prove to make or break the current White House’s main domestic policy achievement over the last three years.

According to BenefitsPro, “the justices announced they will hear more than five hours of arguments, an extraordinarily long session.”

The main provision that will be in question is the requirement that individuals purchase health insurance or pay a penalty beginning in 2014. The federal appeals court in Atlanta has held that Congress overstepped its bounds when it adopted the mandate. However, other courts (including the federal appeals court in Cincinnati as well as appellate judges in Washington D.C.) have upheld the law.

BenefitsPro says this “case could become the high court’s most significant and political ruling since its 5-4 decision in the Bush v. gore case nearly 11 years ago which effectively sealed George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential election victory.”

The court will hear more than five hours of arguments, an unusually long session, and will also determine if the rest of the law can still take effect in 2014 even if the central mandate is determined to be unconstitutional.

It should be noted, however, that “justices might not settle the fight over the constitutionality of the law at all if they agree with a decision by the federal appeals court in Richmond, VA. Those appellate judges said arguments over the law’s validity are premature because a federal law generally prohibits challenges to taxes until the taxes are paid. The appeals court reasoned that the penalty for not purchasing insurance will not be paid before federal income tax returns are due in April 2015,” according to the same BenefitsPro article.

District courts have consistently ruled following political lines meaning, judges appointed by Democratic presidents have upheld the law while those appointed by Republican presidents have struck the law down. Yet, party lines seem to be blurred in the federal appeals courts where judges have not consistently voted along party lines.

According to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, “In both public surveys and at the ballot box, Americans have rejected the law’s mandate that they must buy government approved health insurance…”

Many Republicans have stated that they believe the PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) is unconstitutional.

The battle over Health Care Reform will undoubtedly continue in the next several months. Be sure to keep reading, and subscribe, to keep up to date with Health Care Reform news.

Thank you for reading!

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