If there was ever any doubt that the Affordable Care Act would make it to the Supreme Court, a new ruling from a federal appeals court in the District of Columbia may have made it a sure thing. A panel of judges from the Court of Appeals in D.C. has ruled that the Affordable Care Act, particularly the provision for mandatory health insurance, is constitutional. The ruling conflicts with that coming from other appeals courts throughout the country that have deemed the law unconstitutional. To date, 26 states have filed lawsuits against the federal government regarding the issue of mandatory health insurance.
Within the Affordable Care Act is a provision that requires all U.S. citizens to have some form of health insurance beginning in 2014. Those that do not have health insurance by this time will face steep fines and possible jail time. The provision is at the heart of the controversy surrounding health care reform, attracting opposition from consumer advocacy groups and many state and federal legislators. The insurance industry, however, has been supportive of the measure because it could mean higher profits in the future.
The ruling from the D.C. court adds more momentum to the issue and the matter is surely heading for the Supreme Court next year. Even if the mandatory health insurance provision is struck down, the overarching reform may remain intact, meaning that states will still have to build health insurance exchanges and accommodate new federal regulations regarding insurance.