2. The Supreme Court Takes Up Healthcare

A legal fight moves to the high court

Supreme Court     Photo: dbking/Flickr

In November 2011, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear a case on the constitutionality of President Obama’s healthcare law. At the heart of the case is the individual mandate section, which requires nearly all Americans to buy insurance by 2014 or face financial penalties. Florida and 25 other states challenged that the government has the authority to issue such a mandate

The 2,700-page Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law in March of 2010. Some provisions were immediately enacted, and some are scheduled to start between 2010 and 2014. One of the provisions to be enacted in 2014 will prevent insurers from discriminating against—and charging higher rates for—people with pre-existing conditions. Arguments are scheduled for late March of 2012. A ruling determining whether the entire act, parts of it, or none of it is unconstitutional will be handed down in June.

The case is important enough that the Supreme Court set aside more than five hours to hear all sides. Traditionally, oral arguments last only one hour.

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