By Kirsten Salyer
The U.S. Supreme Court decided today to review the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s health care reforms. The case, which the justices will hear in March and likely decide by July, will interpret the extent of federal power months before the 2012 elections.
The court will consider the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, which requires Americans to buy insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty. The law also extends coverage to an estimated 32 million Americans who lack insurance by expanding the federal-state Medicaid program and setting up exchanges for consumers to buy insurance.
The case hinges on Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce. Opponents say Congress over-extended its authority by requiring people to buy insurance even if they say they would pay their own costs or plan not to seek care. The Obama administration argues that uninsured people still need medical care, which places high costs on the system.
Federal appeals courts are divided. Two have upheld the law, a third has found it unconstitutional, and a fourth has ruled that a definitive ruling is premature.
The justices will hear arguments for a total of 5.5 hours, an unusually long time. The high court typically holds one-hour oral-argument sessions.
Columnist Noah Feldman argues today that the likelihood that the Supreme Court will strike down the health-care plan is remote. What do you think?
(Kirsten Salyer is the social media editor for Bloomberg View.)-0- Nov/14/2011 18:39 GMT