The challenge to the healthcare reform act is finally on the Supreme Court’s calendar. Here are the three questions the court will try to answer when it hears the case in March.
The court will spend three days hearing challenges to three key issues. Here’s the breakdown:
- Is the individual mandate unconstitutional? The big question on the courts’ plate: Did Congress violate the Constitution by requiring people to buy health insurance or pay a penalty? The court will hear two hours of arguments on the individual mandate, also known as the minimum coverage provision, on March 27.
- Can the mandate be separated from the rest of the healthcare reform act? The court will also spend a significant amount of time arguing about what parts of the law should be eliminated should the individual mandate be ruled illegal. The states and businesses that filed the lawsuits against the government claim the entire law should be struck down if the individual mandate is deemed illegal. The feds argue that only some parts of the law should be eliminated if the individual mandate is struck down. Those arguments take place on March 28.
- Should the challenge actually be pushed back to 2014? Before either of those questions can be answered, though, the court must first decide if it can even legally make a ruling about the mandate. A federal law called the Anti-Injunction Act states that “consumers can’t challenge a tax law until they have to pay for it,” according to Politico. If the court rules that the individual mandate is a tax, then the court could throw out any lawsuits concerning the mandate until it goes into effect in 2014.
The court will likely rule on the challenge to the act during the last week of its term at the end of June. We’ll keep you informed.