United States Supreme Court to Hear Arguments Regarding Constitutionality of Key Health Reform Provision
On November 14, 2011, the Supreme Court announced that it will review a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, holding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate unconstitutional. The individual mandate, which would require citizens to have health insurance in place or pay a penalty, is scheduled to go into effect in 2014. It is widely hoped that the Supreme Court will resolve a conflict that has arisen between the circuits regarding the constitutionality of the individual mandate. Two U.S. Courts of Appeals, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, have upheld the constitutionality of the individual mandate, while the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has declared it unconstitutional. However, prior to reaching the constitutionality issue, the Supreme Court will have to determine whether it has the authority to hear the case before the individual mandate goes into effect under the Anti-Injunction Act of 1867, which requires a tax law to be in effect before it can be challenged. Although a date has yet to be scheduled, it is believed that the Supreme Court will hear the case in March 2012, and issue a ruling sometime in the summer of 2012.