Supreme Court slates health law arguments for late March

Schedule reinforces likely June verdict

Topics: Health Policy, Market Trends, Strategy

December 20, 2011

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday announced its schedule for oral arguments to determine the constitutionality of the federal health reform law, devoting a record five- and-a-half hours to the case from March 26 to March 28.

On March 26, the high court will hear one hour of arguments on whether courts have the authority under the Anti-Injunction Act to rule on the individual mandate before 2014, when the individual mandate takes effect and most U.S. residents could face penalties for failing to obtain health insurance.

On March 27, the justices will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the individual mandate for two hours. Finally, the justices on March 28 will hear 90 minutes of debate on the issue of severability, or whether striking down the individual mandate means invalidating the entire law. The justices also will hear arguments regarding the legality of the Medicaid expansion under the overhaul.

Observers say the schedule further suggests that the court will issue a ruling on the overhaul in June (Liptak, "The Caucus," New York Times, 12/19; Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 12/19; AP/Washington Post, 12/19).

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