Magazine article HRMagazine

Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Health Care Reform

Magazine article HRMagazine

Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Health Care Reform

Article excerpt

Is the Individual Mandate Constitutional?

On March 27, the second of three days set aside by the U.S. Supreme Court for arguments on the Obama administration's health care reform law, the justices weighed the issue at the heart of the debate-the constitutionality of the individual mandate, which requires that, by 2014, most Americans buy health insurance or pay a penalty.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is based on the idea that the only way insurance companies could afford near-universal coverage without unaffordable premiums was if they had a sufficiently large number of policyholders. The "individual mandate" was intended to ensure the required number of policyholders. The penalty, calculated by one's taxable income and payable to the Internal Revenue Service, was designed as an incentive to get people to buy insurance.

U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr., arguing for the administration, said Congress is just regulating a health care market where people are already participating, not going into new territory by forcing them to buy a product. …

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