The Supreme Court is scheduled to begin hearing a case regarding the constitutionality of the 2010 Affordable Care Act on March 26. Many have assumed that the individual insurance mandate provision of the law, which requires all U.S. citizens to have some form of health insurance, would be among the first topics of discussion. The Court, however, has announced that the issue to be discussed will be whether a decision on the constitutionality of the law should be made now or delayed for the future.
The Supreme Court may choose to delay ruling on the law until 2015 at the earliest. The reason for this is rooted in a law that was passed in 1867 called the Anti-Injunction Act. According to the law, no court in the U.S. can strike down a tax law before it is fully enacted. While the Affordable Care Act is primarily a health care reform legislation, it makes many, sweeping changes to the nation’s tax laws. So far, the Court has been keen to wait to see the impact of the penalties that will be imposed on those that do not purchase health insurance.
Several insurance groups throughout the U.S. support the insurance mandate as it would bolster their profits significantly. Consumer advocacy groups have decried the provision as being too burdensome for those unable to recovery in an unstable economy. Several states have risen in opposition of the mandate, but the ultimate fate of the law lies with the Supreme Court.