The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama after a heated fight in Congress over the landmark legislation. Starting today, mere days after the two-year anniversary of its passage, the Supreme Court begins hearing arguments over the constitutionality of the law. Different lower courts have both upheld and struck down parts of the law. President Obama has much at stake politically on whether the court upholds or strikes down the law. More broadly, the court’s decision will carry huge policy implications for the healthcare reform, which is only beginning to go into effect and will take about a decade to fully implement.
Among other things, the law aims to bring down the cost of healthcare, reduce the federal deficit, and prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage on the grounds of pre-existing conditions. Republicans argue, however, that the law overextends the power of the federal government, hinders job creation, and will greatly increase government spending. Recently, a portion of the law mandating that employers—including religious intuitions—would have to cover contraceptives (the use of which some religions prohibit) for its employees was met with heated criticism from conservatives who see such a requirement as a violation of religious liberty.
The most controversial element of the Affordable Care Act is the individual mandate, requiring all Americans to be covered by health insurance. Opponents say this is unconstitutional, arguing that the federal government cannot force Americans to purchase insurance. The Supreme Court could strike down just this part of the law rather than the reform in its entirety, but that would complicate the implementation of other aspects of the legislation.
The Republican candidates for president all vow to repeal the law if elected. Public polling shows the country is split on the law. Should the Supreme Court overturn Obama’s healthcare law? Here is the Debate Club’s take:
Ian Millhiser Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress
Ron Pollack Founding Executive Director of Families USA
Elizabeth B. Wydra Chief Counsel for the Constitutional Accountability Center
Phil Kerpen Vice President for Policy at Americans for Prosperity
Hans A. Von Spakovsky Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation
Rick Santorum Republican Candidate for President of the United States