In the afternoon on the the third and last day of oral arguments, the Supreme Court heard whether the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) expansion of Medicaid is unlawful. Medicaid is a state-federal program that provides health insurance coverage to the disabled and poor, including families with dependent children. To increase participation rates in the program, the federal government allocates money to states that voluntarily create Medicaid programs that meet federal standards. The ACA expands Medicaid coverage to include single adults that fall within federal poverty standards.
Mr. Paul Clement, representing the challengers, opened the afternoon arguments. Mr. Clement’s allotted 30 minutes ran over, as Justices continued to fire questions well after the time had expired. The majority of Mr. Clement’s argument was spent on the coercion question, which suggests that because the federal government has the option of pulling all the state’s Medicaid funding if a state doesn’t want to participate in the law’s Medicaid expansion, states will thus be coerced to participate in the expansion.
Solicitor General Donald Verrilli followed, representing the Obama Administration.
To end the ACA oral arguments, Chief Justice Roberts gave Mr. Clement 5 minutes to make a final rebuttal.
June 28, 2012
The Supreme Court handed down its long-awaited ruling in the case of National Federation of Independent Businesses et al. v. Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, et al., upholding the individual requirement to maintain insurance coverage as a reasonable exercise of Congress’s taxing and spending authority and also upholding the constitutionality of the Medicaid coverage expansion. In a surprise coalition, Chief Justice Roberts was joined in his majority opinion by Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. The summary below describes the majority opinion, the concurring opinion (authored by Justice Ginsburg), and the dissenting opinion (written by Justice Scalia). Because the Court upheld the individual mandate, it never reached...
January 4, 2012
On November 14, 2011 the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear oral arguments on issues that have arisen as a result of more than two dozen legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that were filed upon or immediately following the March 2010 enactment of the health reform law. The Court will consider four constitutional issues related to the ACA: (1) whether Congress has the power under Article I of the Constitution to enact the coverage requirement; (2) if the coverage requirement is found unconstitutional, whether it is severable from the remainder of the ACA; (3) whether the ACA’s requirement that states expand Medicaid eligibility or risk losing federal funds is unduly coercive in violation of the Tenth Amendment; and (4) whether the individual coverage requirement is a tax for purposes of the Anti-Injunction Act, meaning that plaintiffs seeking to challenge the requirement must wait until it takes effect in 2014.
Oral arguments are set for March 26-28, 2012, and a decision is expected by the end of the Court’s term in late June of 2012.
February 21, 2012
The Supreme Court justices announced that they would lengthen the time allotted to hear the Anti-Injunction Act issue from 60 to 90 minutes. This issue surrounds whether the justices have the authority to decide whether the Affordable Care Act's (ACA's) minimum coverage provision is constitutional. This will bring the case to a total of six hours, making it the longest Supreme Court case in modern history. For the Anti-Injunction Act, the court will hear from a third-party attorney for 40 minutes, the Justice Department for 30 minutes, and the NFIB and the states will get 20 minutes. Next, the justices will hear two hours regarding whether the insurance mandate is constitutional. This issue of the severability of the individual mandate from the rest of the ACA will receive two and a half hours. The court will finally spend an hour on the states' challenges to Medicaid expansion.