If you have been following the news you have probably heard about several legal cases challenging the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. These challenges began at the state level, with 26 states participating in lawsuits challenging the legality of several key provisions. Those most prevalent include the individual mandate which requires individuals to purchase insurance, and the expansion of the Medicaid program to cover low income individuals.
Opponents argue that the Government does not have the right to require individuals to purchase coverage. The ACA requires individuals to purchase health insurance or face a tax penalty. On August 12, 2011, the United States Appeals Court the 11th Circuit based in Atlanta, Georgia, ruled that the individual mandate was not constitutional. This case is expected to be addressed by the United States Supreme Court sometime next year, and they will comment on this issue on November 10th.
The expansion of Medicaid is a different story and is based largely on budgetary issues. Opponents argue that it will put an added strain on state budgets which are already under durress. Medicaid is a Federal program that is administered at the state level. The Federal Government pays a percentage and the states pay a percentage. So when you add additional people to a program that is already quite expensive you can see how states may have concerns. The law includes approximately $100 billion to help with this expansion but with rising costs opponents argue this may not be enough.
If the Supreme Court decides to take up the case they will likely do it next year which means the stakes could not be higher since it is an election year. If the Supreme Court rules that the individual mandate is unconstitutional it will make things interesting to say the least. Check back here for the latest and check out the links below for some helpful resources on this topic.