We Do What We Must Because We Can
The Health Care Mandate. Obamacare. Health Care Reform. The Affordable Care Act of a few years ago has gone by a number of names in the past months. Some fear it, others celebrate it, but many are confused by it. I’m not going to get into any of the detailed complaints that states have brought against the law, but I would like to explain quickly the basis behind the Supreme Court case that was argued last week.
The Supreme Court is the highest court in America. They are only able to decide if a certain question is allowable under the Constitution or if it is not. This is not like a typical Law and Order trial with lawyers trying to sway the jury. Each side has a certain amount of time to ‘argue’ the case in front of the court, and then the judges ask questions to figure out if the law or issue follows the constitution or not.
The Court is looking at four aspects of the Affordable Care Act to see if it is in line with the Constitution and Federal Law. I’ll try to explain each of these quickly:
Anti-Injunction Act: In the 1850s, Congress passed a law that says no court can stop the government from collecting a tax. Alright, that’s confusing. What does that have to do with Health Care? Simply put, the states are trying to argue that mandating health care is a ‘tax’, and previous courts which have blocked the law can’t stop the law.
Minimum Coverage: The most controversial part of this Act is that it requires all people to have health care coverage. The question before the court on this issue is simple: Can They Do That? Is it possible under the Constitution to mandate something like this?
Severability: The court must also decide if the entire law must be struck down if the Minimum Coverage provision is against the Constitution.
Medicaid Provision: Finally, the last part of the Act that the court must look at is a provision would coerce states to fund various parts of this act or lose all Federal funding. This question goes back in history to questions of what powers are given to the states and which powers are kept by the Federal government. The court must decide if this is an issue where the Federal government can force the states to do something or not.
Whew. That was a lot of complicated questions! It really makes me glad that I’m not on the Supreme Court. Hopefully you’re all just a bit less muddled as to what’s going on. We’ll all wait with bated breath for the results!
What do you think about the case? Do you still have questions? If so, leave them in the comments below!