Health Care: Congress or The Supremes

Hang on to your hats, folks. The legal fight of the century is about to begin.

As early as March of next year, the Supreme Court will hear arguments as to the legality of the part of the Affordable Care Act which requires all individuals to buy health insurance.  Congress voted for the law. Three state courts have already upheld it but on August 12, 2011, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal in Atlanta struck down the individual insurance mandate which requires everyone to buy health insurance, as beyond Congress’ constitutional authority under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

This is what Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 of the constitution says: The Congress shall have Power To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes.

Section 1501 of the Health Bill requires that “all U.S. citizens, with certain exceptions, maintain a minimum level of health insurance coverage for each month beginning in 2014. The failure to comply with Section 1501, results in a penalty reflected in the person’s annual federal tax return.”

While the 11th. Circuit Court voted against this one requirement, it upheld the rest of the health care law which includes one million more young Americans having health insurance, inability of insurance companies to turn away people with  pre-existing conditions or charging them more, and Medicaid expansion which will include health care for 16 million more people.

Here’s what the administration says: 1. The act not only requires everyone to buy health insurance but that insurance companies must make it affordable to everyone even if they have a pre-existing condition. 2.The law is clearly and absolutely constitutional.

The opposition argues: 1.That congress has usurped the power of the states. 2. That congress lacks the power to compel people to buy health insurance. 3. That the law is unconstitutional.

The Court has set aside an unprecedented 5 1/2 hours to hear arguments and here’s why. There are other issues they will be asked to decide: Whether the entire law must fail because its centerpiece — the individual mandate — is unconstitutional. Whether states can be forced by the federal government to expand their share of Medicaid costs and administration, with the risk of losing that funding if they refuse. Whether state employees can receive a federally mandated level of health insurance coverage.

The Health-Care Law is unquestionably President Obama’s signature legislative achievement.

On the other hand, the decision of the nine, appointed for life justices, could define Chief Justice John Robert’s court.

The overriding question is, who really runs the country, Congress or The Supreme Court?

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