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Remember the Healthcare Overhaul? ACA Goes To The Supreme Court

Remember the Healthcare Overhaul? ACA Goes To The Supreme CourtPresident Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law two years ago. Refuted immediately by 26 states, the law comes before the Supreme Court for review late March. The Courts will review the constitutionality of the act and are expected to return a decision in June.

The ACA is a 900 plus page bill with hundreds of amendments and components. Most visibly, the overhaul requires all individuals to have healthcare- failure to comply incurs fines and possible imprisonment. This mandate is a huge reason for the ACA’s appearance before the Supreme Court next week.

The issue hotly debated is the constitutionality of the ACA, specifically the federal government’s right to require all individuals to purchase healthcare. The main points of each side were summarized in a video between Neal Katyal, Former Acting Solicitor General who defended the ACA in three appeals courts and Randy Barnett, a Libertarian legal scholar and anti-ACA intellectual architect behind the challenges to the individual mandate. Below are the key issues they argue.

Interstate commerce:  Katyal and proponents of the bill argue that the individual healthcare mandate is included in the umbrella of interstate commerce, and thus Congress has the right to regulate it. Barnett argues that the institution of fines and potential imprisonment for those who don’t comply with the requirement is an aggregation of federal power.

Congress is requiring individuals to “buy” a product: Opponents argue it is unconstitutional and beyond Congress’ taxing power to fine individuals for not purchasing a product (i.e. healthcare). Proponents argue that Congress is not asking individuals to buy a product they wouldn’t usually consume.

A national problem calls for national solution: Katyal views the issue as a national problem that the states can’t fix; Barnett argues it is a violation of state sovereignty and a dangerous concession of power to the federal government to allow them to regulate the healthcare system.

The Supreme Court’s decision could transform the state governments’ role in the provision of healthcare. The case is so significant it has been allotted six hours, featuring multiple lawyers, to be argued over three days, the longest oral argument heard in the Supreme Court in almost half a century.

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