The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide the fate of President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, with an election-year ruling due by July on the U.S. healthcare system’s biggest overhaul in nearly 50 years. The Obama Administration had asked the nation’s Highest Court to uphold the centerpiece insurance provision. A total of 26 states have asked that the entire law be struck down.
The Justices, in a brief order, agreed to hear the appeals. The issue before the Court is whether Congress overstepped its powers by requiring that all Americans buy health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty, a provision known as the individual mandate. Overlooked is the reality that the law provides more than 30 million uninsured Americans with medical coverage. The law is President Obama’s signature domestic achievement. It will be a major issue in next year’s election. I don’t expect the President, as he seeks another four-year term, to back up one bit in his defense of this law. Republican presidential candidates oppose the law and most Republicans in Congress want to repeal it.
According to a Supreme Court spokeswoman, oral arguments will take place in March. There are several potential outcomes – the High Court could leave in place the entire law, it could strike down the individual insurance mandate or other provisions, it could invalidate the entire law, or it could put off a ruling on the mandate until after it has taken effect. Legal experts and policy analysts predict that the healthcare vote will be very close on the nine-member Court. In fact, it could come down to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who often casts the decisive vote.
Paul Heldman, senior analyst at Potomac Research Group, which provides Washington policy research for the investment community, believes the law’s requirement that individuals buy insurance will be upheld. His opinion is that “the Supreme Court will leave much of the health reform law standing, even if finds unconstitutional the requirement that individuals buy coverage.”
Source: Insurance Journal
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