March will be a pivotal month for health care reform. The United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments March 26 through 28 addressing the legality of the Affordable Care Act. Just last week, the Supreme Court increased the time allotted to arguments to a total of 6 hours throughout the three days.
The debate on the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act is allotted the most time for oral argument. The question is whether the individual mandate, requiring all Americans to buy health insurance or face financial penalties, is an overreaching expansion of federal authority. If the individual mandate is determined to be unconstitutional, the Supreme Court will have to decide if it can be separated from the rest of the Affordable Care Act or if the entire Act should be deemed unconstitutional.
Other issues slated for argument include the anti-injunction act relating to whether the Supreme Court should hear the case now or after the individual mandate is in effect, the severability of the provisions of the Act, and the Medicaid eligibility expansion which would require states to increase their share of Medicaid costs and administration or risk losing government funding.
In all, the Supreme Court agreed to hear three appeals, two from challengers to the law and a third from the Obama administration.
The Supreme Court's decision is expected to be handed down in July. The decision will obviously have far-reaching implications for all citizens, employers and government-funded programs.