The U.S. Supreme Court has announced that it will hear more than five hours of oral arguments on the constitutionality of select provisions of the health care reform law (Affordable Care Act or PPACA). The arguments are expected to take place in late February or early March, with a ruling by the Court in June.


The following four issues will be addressed on appeal:


  • Constitutionality of the Individual Mandate. The Court set aside two hours to hear oral arguments on whether Congress had the constitutional authority to challenge to health care reformenact the minimum coverage provision of the Affordable Care Act, which requires non-exempted individuals to maintain a minimum level of health insurance or pay a tax penalty beginning in 2014.
  • "Severability" of the Individual Mandate from the Entire Law. Ninety minutes have been allotted for arguments on whether the individual mandate, if found to be unconstitutional, can be severed from the remaining provisions of the Affordable Care Act or whether some or all of the remaining law must also be invalidated.
  • Whether the Individual Mandate May Be Challenged Prior to Enforcement. The Court will hear one hour of oral arguments on the question of whether federal law (specifically, the Anti-Injunction Act) prohibits the Court from hearing challenges to the individual mandate before the requirement becomes effective in 2014 and a taxpayer actually incurs a penalty tax for non-compliance. 
  • Constitutionality of the Expansion of Medicaid. Finally, one hour has been allotted by the Court to hear arguments on whether the Affordable Care Act's expansion of the eligibility and coverage thresholds that states must adopt to remain eligible to participate in Medicaid is a valid exercise of constitutional authority by Congress.


You can read more about these challenges to the health care reform law in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Briefs, posted on the Docket page of the U.S. Supreme Court website. For more information on other provisions of the Affordable Care Act, visit our section on Health Care Reform.


Image Credit: Brian Turner

Topics: Employee Benefits, Health Care Reform

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