Supreme Court Oral Argument Raises Specter That Entire Health Reform Law Could Be Overturned

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Last week’s big news was the highly unusual three days of oral arguments held by the Supreme Court on various aspects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), including whether the individual mandate, requiring every individual to have insurance coverage or pay a penalty, was constitutional. While it would be foolhardy to predict how the Supreme Court will decide the case, the tenor of the arguments was such that the possibility of the entire 2700 page law being struck down no longer appears far-fetched. The Court’s decision is expected in late June.

On Monday, the Court heard argument on whether the challenge to the individual mandate was premature because, under the Anti-Injunction Act (AIA), a “tax” cannot be challenged until it is actually assessed. The justices, who had appointed a lawyer to argue the issue since both the 26 states bringing the challenge and the Government itself argued that the AIA should not bar the suit, appeared skeptical that the penalty under the ACA was a “tax.” It therefore appears likely the Court will decide the merits of the case now.

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