US Supreme Court to Hear Arguments on Health Care Reform

Posted November 14th, 2011 at 7:40 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review President Barack Obama's health care law and issue a ruling on the historic overhaul just before the presidential election next November.

The court said Monday that the case will be presented next March and that the justices will hear more than five hours of oral arguments regarding the law, known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. A decision is expected by July.

At the heart of the case is whether the government has the power to require Americans to purchase health insurance starting in 2014 or face a penalty.

The requirement is part of a sweeping reform of the national health care system approved by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in March of last year. The mandate that individuals buy insurance has proven to be the law's most controversial provision.

There have been numerous challenges to the mandate. Some lower courts have upheld it, while one declared it unconstitutional, ruling that Congress overstepped its authority in mandating the purchase of insurance. The measure aims to provide medical coverage to more than 30 million uninsured Americans.

The health care law is an important domestic achievement for the Democratic president, who is seeking re-election. All of the Republican presidential candidates say they want to repeal it.

The White House said it is pleased that the high court has agreed to take the case. Those opposed to the law also welcomed the court's decision to hear arguments in the case.

At the heart of the debate is what the government can compel its citizens to do as part of regulating economic activity in the United States. Opponents of the law have raised questions about what other products Americans could be forced to buy if the insurance requirement is ruled legal.

Supporters of the measure say the insurance purchase is needed to spread the cost of health care among all Americans. They say that if people waited until they needed help paying for their health care, insurance premiums for others would be unaffordable.

The overhaul was the most significant reform to the U.S. health care system in four decades.