The Supreme Court has scheduled three days of oral arguments for March to decide the legality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, almost exactly two years after President Barack Obama signed the landmark law.
High court schedules oral arguments for ACA
According to the Supreme Court's argument calendar published Monday, the justices will spread discussions of four separate legal questions about the law over three days, with the largest chunk of time going to the question of whether Congress had the power to compel the purchase of health insurance by 2014.
On Monday, March 26, the court will open the ACA sessions with a one-hour discussion of whether any court has jurisdiction to hear the case. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond this year dismissed one challenge to the reform law after finding that the federal Anti-Injunction Act would prohibit any challenge to the law's insurance mandate until 2014.
March 27 will see two hours of arguments on what has emerged as the chief challenge to the reform law: Whether Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce gives it the power to force Americans to buy insurance or face a tax penalty. This is the only issue on which any appeals court has struck down any part of the law.
Then, on March 28, the high court will hear arguments on two issues. First will be 90 minutes of arguments on whether the remainder of the reform law could stand if the insurance mandate is struck down. Following that will be one hour of arguments on whether the law's Medicaid expansion amounts to illegal coercion of the states into expanding their costly programs to insure the poor.
On March 23, 2010, Obama signed into law the ACA and the related Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which together created the most sweeping reform of healthcare in a generation, greatly expanding regulations in many areas and setting the goal of expanding insurance access by about 32 million people. Critics have called it an illegal expansion of federal power and oversight.
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