Health Care Fault Lines Still Fresh

Posted November 14, 2011 at 1:17pm

The battle over President Barack Obama’s health care law reignited on Capitol Hill today, with both Democrats and Republicans predicting an outcome favorable to their party in the pending Supreme Court review of the landmark legislation.

The high court announced this morning that it will consider the constitutionality of the controversial law next year, with a decision expected before the November elections. At issue is the controversial federal mandate that all Americans purchase health care insurance. Should the Supreme Court throw out that component, the entire law also could be struck down. If the whole law is thrown out, popular provisions, such as an end to pre-existing condition limits and the ability of parents to keep children up to age 26 on their insurance, would also be struck.

“I am glad the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the Affordable Care Act,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said in a statement. “Most appellate courts have upheld the constitutionality of this historic law, and when the Senate voted to pass the Affordable Care Act, it also voted specifically on its constitutionality. I hope the Supreme Court will defer to Congress in addressing this national problem.”

Senate Republican Conference Vice Chairman John Barrasso (Wyo.), an orthopedic surgeon, countered that he expects the law to be overturned on the grounds that the federal mandate to purchase insurance is unconstitutional.

“I am confident that the Supreme Court will overturn President Obama’s overreach and rule that his law is unconstitutional,” Barrasso said in a statement. “I am committed to repealing the President’s health care law and restoring Americans’ power over their own health care decisions.”

Similar arguments have emerged from Democratic and Republican House Members. Arguments before the court are expected in March.