The Supreme Court has agreed to settle the dispute over the constitutionality of the healthcare reform law once and for all. When will it make its ruling?
The high court is likely to hear oral arguments in February or March, with a final ruling expected sometime in June.
The timing of the decision could have a major impact on the presidential election next November.
To date, numerous lawsuits have been filed questioning the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (PPACA) mandate that individuals obtain health insurance or pay a penalty.
Four federal appeals courts have ruled on the matter, with one ruling coming as recently as last week. Three deemed the law constitutional and one shot it down.
The split all but guaranteed the Supreme Court would settle the matter.
The lawsuits challenging the PPACA where brought on by dozens of states, along with various groups and individuals. They claim the federal government overstepped its authority by forcing individuals to buy health insurance.
The Department of Justice (DOJ), on the other hand, says the law doesn’t force individuals to participate in a marketplace they are not already in. Because everyone will need medical care at some point, DOJ officials maintain that all U.S. citizens already participate in the healthcare market.
If the Supreme Court rules the mandate to obtain health insurance is unconstitutional, it could cost President Obama — and other supporters of the law — votes this coming election.
In addition, if the individual mandate is struck down, the high court will have to decide whether the rest of the PPACA can stand without it.