To Uphold Or Not To Uphold: Health Care Reform’s Fate In The Hands of The Justices

March 30, 2012

Many are calling the U.S. Supreme Court hearings on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148, March 23, 2010, 124 Stat 119) related to Obama’s health reform as the biggest U.S. constitutional case since President Roosevelt’s New Deal Laws in the 1930s. (try a search such as DA(AFTER 3/20/2012) & SUPREME-COURT & ARGUMENT & HEALTH & ROOSEVELT in the ALLNEWSPLUS database). This case is of significant political impact, particularly this year, an election year. The Oral Arguments were held over a period of three days. All the oral arguments are available on Westlaw. The audio of the oral arguments is available as well. See screen shot below.

A USA Today article nicely summarizes the events and issues of the three days of the oral arguments and the article is entitled: 3 days that may reshape America, Oral arguments could affect the election — and your health plans, 3/26/12 USATD 1A

Day 1: On the first day the Court heard arguments on the issue of whether not purchasing health insurance was a tax or a penalty under the Anti-Injunction Act of 1867. This Act bars challenges to tax laws before taxes are paid. If the Court decides this is a tax then this issue will be premature.

Oral Arguments for Day 1 available on Westlaw at: DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, et al., Petitioners, v. FLORIDA, et al., 2012 WL 993811



Day 2: The Individual Mandate: The issue appears to be the heart of the case. The government argued that Congress has the power to regulate interstate commerce. The opponents argued that the question is not whether Congress can regulate interstate commerce but rather can Congress compel people to enter into commerce.

Oral Arguments for Day 2 available on Westlaw at: DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, et al., Petitioners, v. FLORIDA, et al., 2012 WL 1017220

Day 3: On the third day, the Court heard arguments related to whether the entire law should be struck down if the individual mandate is found to be unconstitutional or can the Court uphold the rest of the law while striking down the hotly contested individual mandate. A second issue that was argued on this day related to the Medicaid Expansion.

Oral Arguments for Day 3 available on Westlaw at: FLORIDA, et al., Petitioners, v. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, et al., 2012 WL 1031485 and NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS, et al., Petitioners, v. Kathleen SEBELIUS, Secretary of Health and Human Services, et al.; Florida, et al., Petitioners, v. Department of Health and Human Services, et al., 2012 WL 1031484

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on these issues by late June of this year. See, 3/29/12 NYT A1