Obamacare & the Supremes: The Arguments
This week’s historic three days of Supreme Court hearings on the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) start with a 90-minute oral argument on Monday on whether the lawsuit itself is “premature.” The Obama Administration says that, because no one yet has paid a fine for not having health insurance, no damages have been incurred and thus no basis yet exists for the lawsuit to go forward.
Tuesday’s two-hour argument is the “interstate commerce” discussion: whether the Democrat-controlled Congress overstepped its authority by requiring Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty.
Conservatives say the interstate commerce clause does not apply, as no commerce is crossing state lines. However, the Democrats argue that all citizens have to pay higher health insurance premiums due to the uninsured, so this constitutes the “commerce” that crosses state boundaries.
The last days oral testimony comes in two parts. For 90 minutes Wednesday morning, the Court listens to whether the rest of the law can take effect even if the individual health insurance mandate is unconstitutional (“severability”).
That afternoon, the last hour’s argument takes up whether Obamacare is excessive when it calls for a cut-off of federal aid to states that don’t comply with the mandated 2014 Medicaid expansion contained in the Law. States argue they simply cannot afford to assume the added costs to do this, and that the mandate is unconstitutional.
Wednesday’s arguments may be even more interesting to Arkansans, who will be facing the state’s expected $400 million Medicaid shortfall in the next two fiscal years.