Supreme Court begins Obamacare hearings

The Supreme Court seal (Pic by Hayfordoleary, via WIkimedia Commons)

The Supreme Court of the United States today begins hearing oral arguments in Florida’s challenge to the 2010 health care reform law. Twenty-five other states–including Colorado–joined Florida’s lawsuit.

Since the Affordable Care Act was signed two years ago, the state of Florida has fought against the law — and is in many ways acting as if it were not law. Gov. Rick Scott has said publicly that he does not believe health care reform is “the law of the land,” and will not implement it until the Supreme Court decides to uphold the measure.

The hearings will take place throughout this week. The court will today debate whether it can even rule in the case, considering some of the provisions the states are fighting (such as penalties that are part of the individual mandate) are not yet in place.

Ezra Klein of The Washington Post explains today that “under a law passed in 1867, the Anti-Injunction Act, a tax cannot be challenged until someone has actually had to pay it.” The penalties under the Affordable Care Act do not kick in until 2015.

Klein explains that the issue is important because “the Anti-Injunction Act gives the Supreme Court an opportunity to put off its decision for at least three years, potentially diffusing the law slightly as a 2012 election year issue.”

“This could be a mixed-bag for health care supporters: On the one hand, it gives the law three more years to be implemented. On the other, it would still make the law’s fate seem uncertain, and likely extend the national debate around the Affordable Care Act,” he writes.

Over at the Supreme Court, groups from all over the country are rallying in support and in opposition to the law.

Scott made the media rounds today, calling the law the “biggest job killer ever” on Fox and Friends.

He told a host of the show that the law would impact Florida greatly because it would add a “cost to [Florida’s] Medicaid program” that he says the state “cannot afford.”

Scott’s claim that the law requires states to “dramatically expand Medicaid” has been a common argument made by state officials opposing the law. But Florida public policy experts say that Scott’s, and others, arguments about the Medicaid expansion have been “vastly inflated [and] lacking in merit.”

The Florida Center on Fiscal and Economic Policy, a progressive-leaning public policy group, released a report last week that claimed : “The extent to which state projections of the cost of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act have been hyper-inflated is troubling, and they appear to have been specifically crafted to support a political position rather than provide a backdrop for planning purposes.”

The Supreme Court will hear arguments about the Medicaid expansion on Wednesday.

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