ACA's Fate Rests with Court

Margaret Dick Tocknell, March 29, 2012

After three days, the Supreme Court arguments have ended and now we must wait until June or July to learn whether the entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will be struck down, whether the individual mandate will be declared unconstitutional, and if the Medicaid program will be allowed to expand to include millions of potential enrollees.

Unsurprisingly, the court appears divided along ideological lines. Ultimately, the votes of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy appear to be in play. The court's liberal arm —Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg—are expected to uphold the individual mandate and PPACA. On the conservative side, Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas are expected to vote to overturn the individual mandate.

Two years ago when Congress narrowly passed PPACA the Obama administration expected opposition to the bill to dissolve once Americans became familiar with the bill. Strong support for the bill has never materialized, although specific aspects of the law are popular, according to Kaiser Family Foundation tracking polls. For example, closing the donut hole for Medicare recipients is well received while the individual mandate has generally scored very low with survey respondents.

Margaret Dick Tocknell Margaret Dick Tocknell is a reporter/editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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