March 26, 2012
U.S. Supreme Court Begins Hearings on PPACA
Beginning March 26, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear six hours of oral arguments spread out over three days regarding the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and its provisions.
In November, the court agreed to hear the lawsuit brought forth by 26 states, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and two individuals. The main issue at hand and the subject of the lawsuit is the claim that Congress exceeded its constitutional power by instituting the “individual mandate,” sometimes called the “minimum coverage provision,” which requires that most Americans buy health insurance starting in 2014 or face a fiscal penalty. Arguments regarding the individual mandate will be presented on Tuesday, March 27. Of special note to ASA, Michael Carvin, a distinguished attorney and featured speaker from the 2011 Legislative Conference who offered the presentation “Understanding the Constitutional Challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” will be the counsel representing NFIB in their oral arguments before the Court.
Per its previous decision, the justices have expanded the scope of the hearings beyond just the question of the constitutionality of the individual mandate and have agreed also to review these issues:
1) Anti-Injunction Act: Determining if this legal challenge violates the Anti-Injunction Act, which prohibits pre-enforcement challenges of tax statutes.
2) Severability: Determining if the Court is able to rule provisions of PPACA as unconstitutional without striking the law in its entirety. And, if so, which provisions of the law would be stricken as a result of declaring the individual mandate or other portions of the law unconstitutional.
3) Medicaid Expansion: States are challenging the provision of PPACA requiring them to expand Medicaid coverage to more lower-income people who lack health insurance (including non-disabled adults under 65 without dependent children that meet the income thresholds, who were previously ineligible), or risk losing federal funds.
A ruling from the Court is expected prior to the June 30, 2012 end of its term. A hearings list schedule is available here. While the hearings will not be televised, the audio recording of the oral arguments and the transcripts are available following two hours after the completion of each hearing, including today’s hearing on the applicability of the Anti-Injunction Act. Click here for the oral arguments and here for the transcripts.
ASA will be closely monitoring the hearings and providing updates to members.