Chuck Lauer: My Prediction for the Fate of Healthcare Reform

Beginning next week, the Supreme Court will hear arguments over the legality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. They must first consider whether or not the challenge can move forward and then if the individual mandate is or is not legal under the Constitution. Here, Chuck Lauer, former publisher of Modern Healthcare and an author, public speaker and career coach, shares his thoughts on the Court's outcome.

The Supreme Court hearing on the healthcare law challenge begins next week. However, the issue could be delayed until 2014 because of what is called the Anti-Injunction Act. It is a federal law that says courts cannot consider a challenge to a tax law until that tax is actually assessed. If the high Court actually rules that the AIA applies to the healthcare law then no challenge to the  individual mandate can be heard until after 2014. That is unless the Congress were to act on the measure. Neither the government nor the challengers feel that the law necessarily applies, but the Court has hired a lawyer to argue a position that neither of the parties would argue, which is that the challenge to the individual mandate is premature and can only be brought once it goes into effect in 2014.

The individual mandate is really the key provision of the law, and it requires most people to buy health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty. The government argues that the  Congress had the authority to pass the law under the Commerce Clause. The opponents, however, consisting of 26 states, four individuals and a small business group say that Congress does not have the authority to force someone into the marketplace. They argue that if Congress has the power to pass the mandate, that would mean that the scope of its power is unlimited.

I believe the opponents of the individual mandate will prevail and the Supreme Court will rule in their favor. If in fact, if I am correct in my assessment, the Court will then have to rule on what happens to the rest of the law. Opponents of the law contend that if the mandate is struck down the entire law should be in turn struck down. The government takes the position that if the mandate is struck down, only two popular provisions of the law (that would include the one that deals with insurance companies dealing with preexisting conditions) would have to fall but the rest of the law can stand. This whole matter is complicated and very few people are willing to predict the actions of the Court relative to this matter. Predicting the outcome is a little like throwing the dice on a craps table in Las Vegas.

Share your thoughts on the PPAPA challenge's outcome! Email Laura Miller at

More Articles on Healthcare Reform:

HHS Issues Final Rule on Medicaid Expansion Under PPACA
Poll Reveals Public's Confusion, Lack of Awareness About Healthcare Reform

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