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Health Care Reform

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In a move certain to up the ante in a contentious 2012 presidential campaign, on Sept. 28 the Obama administration urged the U.S. Supreme Court to decide, once and for all, the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act and its mandate requiring most Americans to obtain health care insurance.

Since enactment on March 23, 2010, the health care reform law has seen numerous constitutional challenges in federal courts. While prevailing in two previous filings, the administration suffered a setback last month in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals based in Atlanta. A three-judge panel affirmed a lower court’s ruling in a challenge brought by 26 state attorney generals. The AGs claimed the “individual mandate” to purchase insurance exceeds the constitutional authority of Congress to regulate interstate commerce.

The Justice Department, in a statement released after filing its appeal to the Supreme Court, said, “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 those challenges failed. We believe the challenges to the Affordable Care Act—like the one in the 11th Circuit—will also ultimately fail, and that the Supreme Court will uphold the law.”

If the court decides to hear the case, a final decision is likely before next summer. 

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