The historic argument between the nine justices on the future of the health care reforms introduced by Obama, finally wraps up as it arrives on its third and final day. While a majority is found against the individual mandate, it still remains unclear what will be the final ruling in June.
The two hour long discussion on Wednesday mostly revolved around whether the mandate requiring all Americans to have either health insurance or pay penalty, is so closely tied to the rest of the law, that striking it off would kill the entire constitution. If yes, what will happen to those provisions that are actually benefiting the Americans?
Attorney, who represents the 26 state officials and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) as they challenge the Affordable Care Act and the individual mandate for that matter, told the justices that if the insurance provision is ruled unlawful, “the rest of the act cannot stand,” either. “What you would end up with is a hollow shell,” Clement said, suggesting the court should strike off the complete healthcare law in order to give Congress a “clean slate” for handling the problem from the very beginning.
The liberals present in the court on Wednesday argued that killing of the entire law will potentially deprive Americans of the reforms with which they are already benefiting, such as young adults below the age of 26, who can covered with their parents’ health insurance plans. Deputy Solicitor General, Edwin Kneedler warned that rendering the entire law unconstitutional would make such individuals lose their coverage.
Conservatives also worried about the 26 states being forced to comply with the law, since not doing so would deny the funding they would have received otherwise, hence adding the Medicaid issue to the health care debate. The question still lingers that whether the federal government can rely on its ‘spending power’ to coerce the states what it what them to do.
While the Court has long maintained that there should be a limit to exercising that power, it has still not decided what they limit should be.
As the final day of the oral argument wraps up, the odds appear to be against the law. All the nine justices have left for their chambers to start gearing up for the three month long deliberation that is expected to generate a final decision by the end of June.