Supreme Court to review health law

Ruling expected no later than July 2012

Topics: Health Policy, Market Trends, Strategy

November 14, 2011

The Supreme Court on Monday announced that it will hear legal challenges against the federal health reform law.

The high court posted its decision online four days after the justices convened a private conference to discuss whether they would review any, or all of the pending legal challenges to the overhaul.

Four lawsuits challenging the law were presented to the justices, but the court selected only the case filed by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business. The high court said it consolidated the petitions for writ of certiorari from the two parties to review the issue of “severability.” The issue stems from a question about the lack of a severability clause in the health reform law, which would allow one part of the law to be struck down without jeopardizing the entire law.

The Supreme Court also announced that it has granted cert to HHS’ petition to review the overhaul, based on the plaintiffs’ argument that the law’s individual mandate is unconstitutional.

In addition, the high court will weigh whether a separate federal law prohibits them from ruling on the individual mandate prior to 2014, when it takes effect. Under federal law, individuals cannot challenge a tax before they are required to pay it, and the Obama administration has argued that the mandate invokes Congress' taxing authority.

Oral arguments likely will be heard in late February or March, with the court expecting to rule by June, CNN reports (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 11/14; Stohr, Bloomberg, 11/14; Mears, CNN, 11/14; Liptak, New York Times, 11/14).

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