On March 26th, the Supreme Court will hear a unpresidented 6 hours of oral arguments over three days from both sides of the Patient Protection and Affordability Act. The case, NFIB vs Sebelius, is a lawsuit filed by the National Federation of Independent Business and 26 states against the federal government’s new national health care reform, signed into law by President Barack Obama in March of 2010.
The questions the Supreme Court asked lawyers to argue when the justices consider appeals of the health care overhaul:
- Anti-injunction Act: Are private individuals and states barred from challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate by the Anti-injunction Act, which prohibits legal challenges to taxes until after the tax is collected? Oral arguments are slated for March 26.
- Individual Mandate: Did Congress exceed its authority under the Commerce Clause in requiring that individuals maintain “minimum essential coverage” beginning in 2014 or pay a tax? Called “the minimum coverage provision” by the Court, arguments will occur on March 27.
- Severability: If the individual mandate provision is nullified as unconstitutional, is it “severable” from the rest of the legislation—allowing some or all of the remaining provisions to stand—or is the entire law nullified? Will be heard on March 28.
- Medicaid: Did Congress exceed its authority in expanding the Medicaid program? Will also be heard on March 28.
This is the most significant case decision ever considered by the Supreme Court. The final ruling is not expected until June or July, and there are a number of potential outcomes:
- The entire law could be struck down
- The entire law could be upheld
- A portion of the law could be stuck/upheld
- The case could be thrown out until after 2014 (Anti-Injunction Act)
- Any variations thereof
With the presidential election in November, there is no doubt this decision will have a significant impact on the political landscape in the United States this year. The potential changes to our national healthcare system emphasizes the importance of the ever-evolving role of your insurance advisor.