Obamacare: Supreme Court Concerns

By: Fay Li Email
By: Fay Li Email
Supreme Court justices are expected to make a final decision on the Affordable Care Act in June. For now, there

Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., speaks in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, March 27, 2012, as the court continued hearings on the health care law signed by President Barack Obama. Justices, seated from left are, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg Samuel Alito and Elana Kagan. (AP Photo/Dana Verkouteren)

Miles McNall has seen the benefit of having health insurance, especially after getting shoulder surgery less than a year ago.

"That would've been very expensive for me to afford. Had I had to pay for it out of pocket, I might have delayed treatment," McNall said.

For McNall, it's common sense to have coverage. However, Supreme Court justices are split on a key point in the Affordable Care Act. That is, should congress have the power to require all Americans to buy health insurance?

"You need five votes to agree on anything, so there are four votes pretty clearly in favor of upholding the law," said MSU Law Professor Brian Kalt.

That means potentially only one more vote is needed to move Obamacare along. According to Kalt, the problem is that two justices are in the middle and he says, more likely than not, they're leaning toward striking it down.

"If the government, in defending the law, could find a limit that appeals to Justice Kennedy or Chief Justice Roberts, then they'll have the votes...They didn't really do a good job on Tuesday asserting that limit, so that's why I think a lot of people are thinking they'll strike it down," Kalt said.

The limit is essentially a restriction on the power of congress in mandating coverage.

"If they can do this, what's to say they can't do the next thing, force everyone to buy life insurance, force everyone to buy a cell phone in case of an emergency, things like that," Kalt said.

To some, the individual mandate is constitutionally problematic.

McNall gets insurance through his employer but if he didn't, he says he's up for buying his own anyway as long as it's affordable.

"The benefits of having health insurance is that there are really no barriers of access to medical care for me. I can get whatever care I need whenever I need it."

The Supreme Court isn't expected to release its decision until June.


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