Personal Finance in the News: Health Care Law Being Challenged

Since President Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act in March 2010, this act has stirred up a good deal of debate.  For example, in January 2011, almost immediately after the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives, the Republicans voted unanimously, along with three House Democrats to repeal the law.  Of course, with the Democrats controlling Congress and President Obama in the White House, it went nowhere, ending up as a symbolic vote.

In addition, it has been challenged in the courts by more than two dozen states as being unconstitutional.  Initially, these challenges were unsuccessful, but in August 2011, a federal appeals court in Atlanta struck down the mandate requiring Americans to buy health insurance or face a fine or tax.

What does all this mean?  It means that the Supreme Court is likely to decide on the constitutionality of this law, but the question is when.  Normally, cases accepted after January are heard in the next term, which would mean the ruling would take place after the election next year.  However, given the importance of this case coupled with the need for state governments and insurance companies to meet some of the provisions to be implemented in 2014, it is possible that the Supreme Court will hear the case by January 2012 and make a decision in the late spring.  Complicating all this is the fact that the Democrats and Republicans both feel that this has the potential to impact the coming election.

Discussion Questions:

1.  According to the August 17, 2011 Wall Street Journal article, “2012 Looms Over Health-Law Review,” an early decision on the law could benefit Republicans.  Why?

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