UPDATE 3-Obama's healthcare law appealed to Supreme Court

Wed Sep 28, 2011 6:41pm EDT

* Supreme Court ruling expected before 2012 U.S. elections

* Important legal, political, financial implications

* Administration wants to put challenges to rest (Adds background, details)

By James Vicini

WASHINGTON, Sept 28 (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Wednesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to back the centerpiece of Barack Obama's sweeping healthcare overhaul -- the requirement that all Americans have health insurance.

The appeal was largely expected as a high court ruling against the law could be a fatal blow to the president's signature domestic policy achievement and could have major implications for his re-election bid.

The same day the administration filed its appeal, 26 states and a major business group urged the justices to strike down the entire law, which would have a far-reaching impact on future healthcare coverage for Americans and company costs.

The case is likely to be heard and decided in the Supreme Court's upcoming term that begins next week and lasts through June 2012. A ruling is likely in the midst of the campaign for the November 2012 elections.

The administration and the opponents of the law called for a quick ruling by the high court to resolve uncertainty affecting the federal government, states and companies about the law's key provisions that are taking effect.

The 26 states and National Federation of Independent Business argued in their appeals the entire law should be invalidated because Congress exceeded its powers requiring that Americans buy health insurance or face a penalty.

The Obama administration filed its own appeal in which the Justice Department argued the so-called individual mandate, due to take effect in 2014, was constitutional and said the issue was appropriate for Supreme Court review.

"Throughout history, there have been similar challenges to other landmark legislation such as the Social Security Act, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, and all of those challenges failed," the Justice Department said.

"We believe the challenges to Affordable Care Act ... will also ultimately fail and that the Supreme Court will uphold the law," the department said in a statement.

White House adviser Stephanie Cutter said the administration asked the Supreme Court to hear the case "so that we can put these challenges to rest and continue moving forward implementing the law to lower the cost of health care and make it more secure for all Americans."

At issue was a ruling by a U.S. appeals court in Atlanta in August that declared unconstitutional the individual insurance requirement but refused to strike down the entire law.

That decision conflicted with rulings by other appeals courts that have upheld the law or have rejected legal challenges, including a lawsuit by the state of Virginia that was dismissed earlier this month on procedural grounds. [ID:nN1E78710J]

The law, passed by Congress and signed by Obama in 2010 after a bruising political battle, is expected to be a major issue in the 2012 elections as Obama seeks another four-year term. Republican presidential candidates oppose it and Republicans in Congress have pushed to repeal the law.

EXPANDING COVERAGE

Obama, a Democrat, has championed the law as a major accomplishment of his presidency and as a way to try to slow soaring healthcare costs while expanding health insurance coverage to the more than 30 million Americans without it.

The Supreme Court long has been expected to have the final word on the law's constitutionality. The dispute has important legal, political and financial implications for companies in the healthcare field.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said the states sought Supreme Court review of their lawsuit.

"This healthcare law is an affront on Americans' individual liberty and we will not allow the federal government to violate our constitutional rights," she said.

Legal experts have said the nine-member Supreme Court, with a conservative majority and four liberals, most likely will be closely divided on whether the individual mandate requiring insurance purchases exceeded the power of Congress.

The Obama administration earlier this week said it decided against asking the full U.S. Appeals Court for the 11th Circuit to review the August ruling by a three-judge panel of the court that found the insurance requirement unconstitutional.

That decision cleared the way for the administration to go to the Supreme Court.

The states in their appeal also argued the law's expansion of Medicaid, a federal-state partnership that provides health care to low-income Americans, was unconstitutionally coercive, forced upon the states.

A senior Justice Department official told reporters that political considerations played no role in moving for Supreme Court review. The official said it was important to get a ruling soon so planning for the far-reaching law can proceed. (Additional reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky and Karen Pierog in Chicago; Editing by Mary Milliken and Bill Trott)

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Comments (13)
inverse137 wrote:
Can someone explain to me why these idiot conservatives are actually fighting to keep healthcare costs high and rising?

Don’t these tools look at DATA and see what everyone else sees? The U.S. pays more and get less. This isn’t a state secret. It’ain’t rocket science.

What happened to republicans in the last 20 years that made them dumb? Reagan republicans (of which i WAS one) were not dumb.

Sep 28, 2011 1:29pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
ragtech wrote:
Let me correct you Sir…

1. Did you know that . . . since Jan. 1 of this year (2011), you cannot use your flex-account at work (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) to purchase over-the-counter medicines?

2. Did you know that . . . since July 1 of last year (2010), Americans have been paying a 10 percent excise tax on all indoor tanning services?

3. Did you know that . . . starting in 2018, if your health insurance is “too good” or considered a “Cadillac” plan, then you will incur a new 40 percent tax on your health plan?

4. Did you know that . . . Obamacare has 21 new or higher taxes in it, totaling over $500 billion in increased taxes going to the government over 10 years?

5. Did you know that . . . beginning in 2014, individuals and families that do not purchase “qualifying” – as defined by federal bureaucrats — health insurance will be forced to pay a yearly tax penalty?

6. Did you know that . . . 7 tax hikes in Obamacare directly break President Obama’s “firm pledge” not to raise any form of taxes on individuals making less than $200,000 per year and families making less than $250,000 per year?

7. Did you know that . . . the capital gains tax rate under Obamacare will rise to 23.8 percent starting in 2012? That is a 59 percent increase from its current rate.

8. Did you know that . . . in 2013, those Americans facing the highest medical bills and the least ability to pay for them will find their ability to deduct medical expenses is further limited (medical expenses must be reduced by 10 percent of income under Obamacare, rather than current law’s 7.5 percent)

9. Did you know that . . . beginning in 2014, businesses with over 50 employees will be forced to offer health coverage for everyone, or pay a hefty tax for each employee?

10. Did you know that . . . in 2013, Obamacare caps the amount individuals and families can put in their flexible savings accounts at $2500? Currently there is no cap and these accounts are used for a myriad of health expenses including paying upwards of $14,000 in tuition to special needs schools for some parents?

Sep 28, 2011 1:55pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
skifiSSS555 wrote:
“The Obama administration on Wednesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to back the centerpiece of Barack Obama’s sweeping healthcare overhaul…”

Does this smack of arrogance to anyone else?

Sep 28, 2011 7:20pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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