Obama Administration Submits Brief for ACA

Laura Mortkowitz

Although the Supreme Court won't hear arguments for and against the 2010 health care law until March, the Obama administration submitted its brief defending the law and the requirement that people obtain insurance.

Although the Supreme Court won’t hear arguments for and against the 2010 health care law until March, the Obama administration submitted its brief defending the law and the requirement that people obtain insurance.

The law’s opponents argue that Congress did not have the authority to require people, who are willing to pay their health expenses or don’t plan to seek care, to buy insurance. And if the Supreme Court strikes the

individual mandate

from the law, opponents contend that the entire Affordable Care Act would be invalidated.

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This Court cannot remove the hub of the individual mandate while leaving the spokes in place without violating Congress’ evident intent,” plaintiffs wrote. They argue that ACA’s core components cannot survive without the individual mandate and that the remainder of the law cannot survive without those core components.

According to the government, however, Congress was well within its rights to require people purchase health insurance because it has the authority to regulate interstate commerce. In this case, it relates to “the way in which individuals finance their participation in the health care market.”

The measure, according to the administration’s brief, addresses “a crisis in the national health care market.” In 2008, the uninsured consumed $116 billion in health care services, and of that total health care providers were never compensated for $43 billion. As a result, the average family’s insurance increased by more than $1,000.

“In sum, the uninsured as a class presently externalize the risks and costs of much of their health care; the minimum coverage provision will require that they internalize them (or pay a tax penalty),” the brief reads. “This is classic economic regulation of economic conduct.”

At the end of March, the Supreme Court will hear arguements on the case. Acknowledging how serious and contentious this issue is, the court has scheduled five and a half hours for arguements instead of the typical one hour session.