Historic court ruling looms large on the health care law

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling on President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law will be out within this week that will focus attention again across the streets to Capitol Hill and to what happens next there. This law is deemed to extend the insurance coverage to at least thirty million Americans and help in reshaping the insurance industry that makes up to 18% of the country’s economy.

The court decision is coming four months before the proposed November elections that will mark for the first time in the court’s history, when the court has ruled on a president’s signature legislative accomplishment during the midst of his reelection bid. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -2010 had taken into effect after a century of federal efforts and months of in fighting in the political and policy arenas.

This legislation signed by President Obama contains 2700 pages, nine major sections and 450 of special provisions. The court has put a self-imposed deadline to have all draft opinions to be finished by June.1st and any subsequent concurrences and dissents to be submitted by June.15th. However, nothing is final until the court’s decision is released to the public. It is somehow unclear whether the court’s ruling will be pronounced this week.

The first lawsuits challenging the health care overhaul began just two hours after the president signed the legislation two years ago. A series of petitions followed on in various federal courts and finally the petitions arrived at the high court in November when the justices decided to review them after written briefs and oral arguments were held.

The court will release the ruling by announcing the opinions from the bench beginning at 10:00 A.M. Washington time. When Chief Justice John Roberts says an opinion is issued, the court employees will begin to issue the reports to the reporters and that means that the first word of health care decision will mostly come from news reports.  The possibilities of the court ruling may result in:

  • The upholding of the entire statute that is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or
  • The court may strike down the part of the law that may result in invalidating the requirement that most Americans get insurance or face penalties, or
  • The court may also invalidate the law’s expansion of the Medicaid program for the poor that were proposed to cover about sixteen million uninsured people.

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