On November 14, 2011, the Supreme Court announced that it will hear challenges related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) during its spring term. The Court has chosen to address four specific issues with respect to legal challenges of the health reform law:
(1) the constitutionality of the law’s requirement that all individuals purchase insurance (i.e., the Minimum Essential Coverage provision, also referred to as the individual mandate);
(2) whether the Anti-Injunction Act, a law which requires individuals to refrain from suing the federal government for the imposition of a tax until after the tax has been paid, bars a pre-enforcement challenge to the individual mandate until 2014 when the provision goes into effect;
(3) the constitutionality of the law’s Medicaid expansion requiring states to provide coverage to all adults under 65 with household incomes below 133 percent of the poverty level; and
(4) the issue of severability, as the Court must determine whether the law must be struck down in its entirety if one of the provisions is found unconstitutional, or whether that provision may be removed while the remainder of the ACA remains intact.
An extraordinary five-and-a-half hours for oral arguments have been granted: two hours on the constitutionality of the individual mandate, 90 minutes on the issue of severability, one hour on whether the Anti-Injunction Act bars some or all of the challenges to the insurance mandate, and one hour on the constitutionality of the Medicaid expansion. Observers speculate that the arguments will be held in March and a decision may be issued by the Court by late June, well in advance of the 2012 Presidential election.