Why Supreme Court's Look at ObamaCare Surprises

SCOTUS allots 5.5 hours for oral arguments, will examine Medicaid portion
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2011 7:43 AM CST
Why Supreme Court's Look at ObamaCare Surprises
In this May 3, 2011 file photo, the Supreme Court is seen in Washington.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

(Newser) – That the Supreme Court decided to hear a challenge to ObamaCare's individual mandate is not too shocking. But, as Politico reports, a number of aspects of the court's decision are surprising—and historic. The court will hear 5.5 hours of oral arguments in March, which Politico calls "an unprecedented amount of time in the court’s modern history." Also unexpected is the fact that, in addition to the individual mandate, the court will look at three other parts of the law, including the expansion of Medicaid—which, opponents say, is unconstitutional since Medicaid is a state-run program.

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"The Medicaid issue has the potential to dwarf the individual mandate in its importance," says a former solicitor general, noting that if the planned changes to the state-run program are found to be "constitutionally coercive," it would "call into question the government’s use of the spending power across a wide range of activities." And Politico notes that the court might ultimately sidestep the challenge to the individual mandate altogether. Among the three additional issues it will consider: whether any ruling on the individual mandate must wait until at least 2015, after people without insurance would have paid a tax penalty. (Read more health care reform stories.)

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