Supreme Court justices met in a closed-door conference Thursday to discuss which cases they may take up in coming months, but they did not issue any notice about when or whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will be included in their spring 2012 term.
No word from high court on reform case
The next time the court is expected to issue an order list for upcoming cases is Monday morning.
Opponents and supporters of the sweeping legislation have filed a total of six petitions for oral arguments before the high court based on the legal conclusions from four federal appeals courts handed down this year, the petitions for writs of certiorari say.
A fifth appellate decision (PDF) from the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia was published Tuesday upholding the law, but has not been appealed to the court.
Although the March 2010 reform law contains hundreds of new requirements, directives and experiments for healthcare providers, payers and patients, most of the litigation before the Supreme Court has centered on the question of whether the Constitution gives Congress the power to force private individuals to buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty.
One of the most closely watched lawsuits, filed by 26 states against the HHS (PDF), also asks the court to consider the question of whether the federal government can force a dramatic expansion of Medicaid rolls as a way to extend healthcare coverage.
The Obama administration has asked the Supreme Court to ignore the Medicaid question and focus on the individual insurance mandate (PDF), which it argues is legal because individuals' collective decisions not to buy insurance shifts billions in uncompensated care costs to the insured.
Critics say nothing in the Constitution or Supreme Court case law gives Congress the right to regulate economic inactivity, and that such a power, if granted, would give lawmakers the power to order private citizens to buy almost any commodity that could benefit them, such as broccoli (PDF).
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