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NYSHealth Hosts “What the Supreme Court Could Do to Health Reform: A Conversation with Abbe Gluck”

March 15, 2012

On March 15, NYSHealth hosted a conversation with Abbe Gluck, associate professor of law and Milton Handler fellow at Columbia Law School, who reviewed the main issues in the case; previewed what we can expect to hear during oral arguments; and provided her perspective on the factors that could influence the Court and what it may ultimately decide.

Oral arguments begin in March 2012 in the landmark Supreme Court case on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It could affirm the law as is; find the individual mandate to be unconstitutional; strike down the law completely; and affect the ability of the Federal government to expand Medicaid and a host of other government programs. It could also rule that it is too early for courts to decide lawsuits about the ACA.

Professor Gluck laid out the elements of the law and the four key questions that the Court will consider:

  1. The Individual Mandate: What is the extent of Congress’s legislative authority under the Commerce Clause? The Commerce Clause covers channels of interstate activity, but can it regulate inactivity (in this case, a lack of action to secure health insurance coverage)?
  2. Severability: Can the rest of the ACA stand if the individual mandate falls? Is the entire Act dependent on the mandate? Are community rating and guaranteed issue provisions necessarily tied to the mandate? Or is the mandate entirely severable from the Act on its own?
  3. Medicaid Challenge: Does the Medicaid expansion unconstitutionally coerce the states? Medicaid is a voluntary program for states, but is it constitutional to change the program once it’s become entrenched in the states?
  4. Standing: Is the case prematurely brought? Can a suit be brought before the individual mandate goes into effect in 2014 and penalties for noncompliance are actually levied?

An unprecedented three days of oral arguments before the Court will begin March 26th; a decision is expected by the end of June 2012.

View Professor Gluck’s slide presentation.