Butter your popcorn, folks, and save your seats for the U. S. Supreme Court case of the year. Next week, March 26, 2012, has been set for oral arguments in the national debate on the Affordable Care Act. The main topic is, of course, the health insurance mandate provision for which several hours of debate have been secured.
Of course, nothing is as simple as it seems. The Court may choose to decide the case (which would be sometime in the summer, expectations currently being July) or it may choose to punt the decision until after 2014 when the mandated coverage provision takes effect.
This is a case that should interest each one of us because the answer will personally affect all of us. If the Court decides the mandate is constitutional, then the remaining provisions of the Affordable Care Act will continue apace. The mandate provisions and the affordable insurance exchanges will go into effect in 2014.
If the Court decides the mandate is not constitutional, it then has to decide whether the entire Affordable Care Act falls or if only the mandate falls. This is huge. Some of the Act's provisions are already in effect and if the Court decides the Act itself falls, we would flip back to pre-Affordable Care Act times. No coverage under Mom/Dad's policy until age 26 for dependents; a return to pre-existing conditions exclusions for children, just to name a few. If only the mandate falls, then costs become a huge issue for which there are currently no alternatives - except maybe Ryan's plan.
So, buckle up. It's going to be a bumpy ride. If you want to familiarize yourself with the issues at stake next week, Kapur's article is a good read: http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/03/supreme-court-prepares-to-determine-fate-of-us-health-care-system.php?ref=fpa.