Supreme Court to Hear Arguments on PPACA Individual Mandate Next Week

Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments for and against the constitutionality of the individual mandate under PPACA on March 26; a decision is expected in June.
The United States Supreme Court will begin hearing a recent challenge to the constitutionality of the individual mandate under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("PPACA"), which requires individuals to purchase and maintain a minimum amount of health insurance coverage, starting on March 26, 2012.

The "justices are allotting an unusually long period, six hours over three days... to hear arguments challenging the law's constitutionality," according to an Associated Press article.
Their ruling, expected in June, is shaping up as a historic moment in the century-long quest by reformers to provide affordable health care for all.
The Associated Press article suggests that the individual mandate is the "linchpin" of the Obama administration's health care reform laws.
The Obama plan relies on private companies plus lots of regulation to make sure they provide basic benefits, keep premiums reasonable, and cover the sick as well as the healthy. That's where the mandate comes in. If insurers must cover everyone, even those with existing medical conditions, healthy people have little incentive to sign up before they get sick.
Insurance companies argue that if only the sick sign up, insurers will go broke. So the law says everybody must have insurance for themselves and their children, or pay a penalty.
But if paying the penalty will ultimately cost less than purchasing the coverage, healthy people will still have little incentive to purchase coverage.
By 2016, the fine reaches $695 per uninsured adult or 2.5 percent of family income, up to $12,500 per year. The IRS is in charge of the penalties but can't prosecute violators or place liens against them. Its only enforcement option may be withholding money from refunds.
That leaves insurance companies, who stand to gain lots of new customers, worried that people instead will shrug off the weak mandate.

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