Will the Supreme Court Rule Based on Law or Politics?
Based on the text of the Constitution and 200 years of precedent, it’s crystal clear that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. That notwithstanding, tomorrow morning the Supreme Court is set to rule on the partisan legal attacks on Obamacare.
Here’s the rundown on what you need to know ahead of tomorrow’s landmark decision.
A decision in the Obamacare cases the Supreme Court heard over three days in March.
10:00 a.m. Eastern time tomorrow, Thursday.
The U.S. Supreme Court, which unfortunately does not allow cameras or recording devices in the court room. You can check out the liveblog at SCOTUSblog and the @ThinkProgress twitter feed for the latest breaking news.
WHAT THE HIGH COURT IS RULING ON:
While the part of Obamacare that requires almost all Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty has attracted the most coverage, the Supreme Court will actually rule on four separate questions.
- Tax Anti-Injunction Act: The Tax Anti-Injunction Act prevents individuals from suing to prevent a tax from being collected—they must first pay the tax and then seek reimbursement. Because the minimum coverage requirement of the Obamacare law operates by effectively imposing a tax on those who do not get insurance, the Court will consider whether the Anti-Injunction Act (enacted way back in 1867) prevents a challenge to that requirement from moving forward until someone actually pays the tax in 2015.
- Minimum Coverage (Individual Mandate): The Court will also decide whether Congress’ broad authority to regulate the national economy under the Commerce, Necessary and Proper, and Taxing Clauses of the Constitution includes the power to regulate the national health care market by requiring most Americans to carry insurance.
- Severability: In the unlikely event that the Supreme Court strikes down part of the Affordable Care Act, it will need to decide whether some other parts of the law must be struck down along with it.
- Medicaid Expansion: The Affordable Care Act expands Medicaid to cover all Americans who earn up to 133% of the poverty rate. States may either participate in this program, or they may exercise their legal right to opt out of Medicaid. Nevertheless, the plaintiffs argue that the Medicaid expansion somehow “coerces” states into not exercising this legal right. The justices will decide whether this novel reading of the word “coercion” is valid.
WHAT’S AT STAKE:
While much is at stake tomorrow, here are some key benefits of Obamacare that the Republicans’ partisan legal attacks have put under threat:
- The ability of more than 30 MILLION uninsured Americans to obtain affordable health insurance coverage
- The right to obtain health insurance even if you or your child has a preexisting condition
- Billions of dollars in annual prescription drug benefits for seniors
- Significantly lower premiums for those who purchase health insurance directly from insurance companies
- Preventive care, including cancer screenings and birth control, at no additional cost
- An end to lifetime limits on coverage
- The ability to stay on your parents’ insurance until age 26
- A rule requiring your insurance company to spend at least 80 cents of every dollar you pay in premiums on medical care, instead of advertising, overhead, and profits
Watch this space tomorrow for everything you need to know about the High Court’s ruling.
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