Dates set for health care law’s U.S. Supreme Court review

Dec 19, 2011

The following article was published in The Florida Current on December 19, 2011:

Dates set for health care law’s Supreme Court Review

By Gray Rohrer

The federal health care law signed by President Barack Obama will be little more than 2 years old when the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in lawsuits brought against it.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed on March 23, 2010. The Supreme Court announced Monday it will hear arguments in the case brought by Florida and 25 other states on March 26-28.

Then-Attorney General Bill McCollum brought the lawsuit soon after the law was signed, and his successor, Pam Bondi, has continued the suit since being sworn in this past  January.

On its way to the Supreme Court, Florida and the other states involved in the lawsuit received favorable opinions from the lower courts. U.S. District Court Judge Roger Vinson, a Reagan appointee, declared unconstitutional the individual mandate included in the law — in which those who do not obtain health insurance pay a fee or tax. His decision further stated that because the individual mandate was so integral to the rest of the law, the entire law should be voided.

A three-judge panel at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Judge Vinson’s decision regarding the individual mandate, but held that the rest of the law could remain intact.

Florida and the other states contend that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, since it compels citizens to buy a product. The Obama administration holds that those who do not get insurance drive up the premium costs for others when they do end up sick or in the hospital, and that the individual mandate falls under its purview outlined in the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

A separate challenge is leveled at the law’s provisions expanding Medicaid coverage, but the lower courts have held that provision is constitutional.

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