By Professor Brietta Clark
The Supreme Court agreed to hear challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the landmark health reform legislation signed into law by President Obama last year. The Supreme Court will consider several questions related to the constitutionality of the Act.
The first issue, and the one that has received the most attention so far, is whether the individual mandate is a constitutional exercise of Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce or to tax and spend for the general welfare. When the mandate goes into effect in 2014, it will require individuals to purchase insurance, unless they qualify for an exemption. This mandate raises a novel and important question about the scope of the government's power to require individuals to purchase a service from a private entity. So far two appellate courts (the Sixth and DC Circuits) have upheld the mandate based on Congress' power to regulate commerce, while the Eleventh Circuit held the mandate unconstitutional.
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