National Healthcare Decision to Shape History: Supreme Court’s Pending Ruling

June 18, 2012

The nation’s healthcare providers, medical billing companies, insurance agencies, business owners, and health consumers all eagerly await the approaching decision from the nation’s highest court regarding the constitutionality of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court is expected to issues its decision later this month (June 2012) regarding the fate of the controversial healthcare act that was signed into law in March of 2010. The core issue that the Court must discern is whether or not the “individual mandate” – the section of the law that requires nearly all Americans to buy health insurance by 2014 – is within or exceeds the scope of Congress’ legislative authority. If the “individual mandate” is ruled unconstitutional, the Court must then decide whether the entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act must be struck down, or if parts of it will remain in effect. This decision has major implications, as the Act contained over 450 separate provisions, and some of the more major provisions (i.e. extended insurance coverage for adult children through the age of 26) are already in effect.

Constitutionally, the Court must also cipher out whether or not the 26 states that are filing the law suit have the authority to even file the case at this point in time, or if instead they must wait until the law actually goes in effect in 2014 before their case has constitutional merit. Finally, the Court will examine whether or not the federal government is coercing the states to expand their share of Medicaid costs. (Medicaid is a cost-share program with funding from both the state and federal government. Because the states depend upon the large federal share of funding for the program, the Court must determine whether or not the federal government is using this dependence as a form of “coercion,” whereby the states are threatened with withdrawn funding if they do not expand their share of Medicaid costs and administration.)

While commentators and key stakeholders are weighing in with their current predictions, the nation must ultimately bite its nails and hold its breath as we wait for the Supreme Court’s final say in this historical case.

For more information about health care reform and its implications, check out CNN’s page: “Basics: Health care reform issues.”