Monday, November 21, 2011

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Challenge to Patient Protection Act

The U.S. Supreme Court has granted certiorari in the case of State of Florida v. Department of Health and Human Services, CA-11, 2011-2 USTC ¶50,573. One of the questions that the Supreme Court has agreed to review is whether the suit challenging the minimum coverage provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Patient Protection Act) (P.L. 111-148) is barred by Code Sec. 7421(a). Another is whether the individual mandate provision of the Patient Protection Act, requiring individuals to purchase health insurance, is constitutional.

The Eleventh Circuit held that the mandate is not constitutional, as it is a regulatory penalty, not a revenue-raising tax, and so was beyond Congress's powers under the Taxing and Spending Clause. Further, the mandate went beyond Congress's powers under the Commerce Clause. However, the mandate is a severable provision, and its excision, therefore, did not invalidate the other provisions of the Patient Protection Act.

To date, four federal appeals courts have ruled on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection Act, reaching different results. Most recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia held that the Patient Protection Act's individual mandate was constitutional (Seven-Sky v. Holder, CA-D.C., 2011-1 USTC ¶50,713).

Reference: PTE §42,001

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