KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

High Court Unlikely To Push Health Law Ruling Into The Future

Based on justices questions' during the opening day of oral arguments in the challenges to the health law, it appears the court was receptive to arguments by both the federal government and the measure's opponents that the case should be decided now rather than waiting until after the individual mandate's penalties for not having health insurance have kicked in.   

Kaiser Health News: Your Guide To The Health Law At The Supreme Court, Day 1 (Video)
The first day's arguments focused on the Anti-Injunction Act and whether the court can rule on the case before a penalty is imposed on those who do not have health insurance. KHN's reporter inside the court, Stuart Taylor, tells Jackie Judd that all the justices, except one, seemed eager to ask questions (3/26).

The New York Times: Justices Hear Argument That Health Case Is Premature
At the opening of three days of arguments, the justices' questions suggested that they were receptive to a point on which both supporters and opponents of the law agree: that the court should decide the case now rather than waiting until the law's penalties for not having health insurance become due (Liptak, 3/26).

Reuters: Supreme Court Unlikely To Delay Healthcare Ruling
The Supreme Court on Monday appeared prepared to decide the fate of President Barack Obama's sweeping healthcare law soon, rather than delaying for years a ruling on the mandate that Americans buy insurance or pay a penalty. In the first of three days of historic arguments, the justices voiced doubt that a U.S. tax law requiring that people pay first and litigate later should postpone a ruling on the legal challenge to the president's signature domestic legislative achievement (Biskupic and Vicini, 3/26).

The New York Times: Arguing That Health Mandate Is Not A Tax, Except When It Is
Throughout the two-year history of the health care litigation, judges have mocked the Obama administration'’s have-your-cake approach to the central question debated at the Supreme Court on Monday: whether the constitutional challenge is even ripe for judicial review before the law takes full effect in 2014. During the opening 90 minutes of oral argument, the justices found that they too could not resist (Sack, 3/26).

The Washington Post: Supreme Court Begins Review Of Health-Care Law
The court began the first of three days of oral arguments on the 2010 law by examining a statute that keeps courts from hearing tax challenges before they go into effect. But the justices’ questions indicated skepticism that the penalties prescribed for those who do not buy health insurance by 2014 amount to taxes under the 1867 law forbidding tax challenges (Barnes, 3/26).

The Wall Street Journal: Court Unlikely to Delay Ruling
Supreme Court justices showed little sympathy Monday for the position that they must wait until 2014 or after to decide on the challenge to President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul law. … The case's central issue is whether Congress can require Americans to carry health insurance or pay a penalty along with their income taxes. But the court couldn't entertain that question until the penalty takes effect in two years, said Washington litigator Robert Long, who was appointed by the court to argue the position (Bravin, Radnofsky and Kendall, 3/27).

Politico: 5 Supreme Court Takeaways
On the opening day of Supreme Court arguments over President Barack Obama's signature health care law, justices signaled Monday that they most likely will rule on whether the heart of the law is constitutional (Haberkorn and Gerstein, 3/26).

NPR: Reading Between The Lines Of Monday's Supreme Court Arguments
The argument against the court's role in the case hinges on justices buying the theory that penalties assessed under the law on those who fail to obtain health insurance by 2014 are tantamount to taxes. Unfortunately for Washington lawyer Robert Long, who was making the argument, they appeared not to be buying it (Halloran, 3/26).

The Wall Street Journal: If It Looks Like A Tax, And Acts Like A Tax …
If the Obama health-care law ultimately is struck down by the Supreme Court, the reason could be the absence of a single word: tax. The high court long has recognized broad congressional authority to levy taxes, and both supporters and opponents say the law would be on firmer ground if the penalty for those who refuse to carry health insurance were labeled a tax (Bravin, 3/27).

Market Watch: Supreme Court Leans Toward Ruling On Health Care
Questions from Supreme Court justices on Monday indicated a likelihood that they will rule on the legality of landmark health-care legislation, rather than delaying it for at least another two years. The nine justices heard arguments that a law called the Anti-Injunction Act, from 1867, prevents any ruling on the legality of a tax until it has been applied (Goldstein, 3/26).

Bloomberg: Court Opens Health-Care Clash With Law That May End Case
The U.S. Supreme Court opened its historic hearings on President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul with several justices suggesting they'll brush aside an argument that they can't rule until the law takes full effect. Justices including Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg today suggested they didn’t view an 1867 law as barring them from ruling immediately on the law's requirement that Americans either get insurance or pay a penalty (Stohr, 3/26).

The Hill: Supreme Court Signals It Will Not Punt On Health Care Decision
The Justice Department says the mandate is constitutional, in part, under Congress’s power to levy taxes. But in urging that the justices should not postpone a decision until the mandate takes effect, sometime after 2014, the administration has had to argue that the mandate is not a tax. Justice Samuel Alito raised the issue as Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. argued Monday that the fine is a not a tax (Baker, 3/26).

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Supreme Court Opens Health Case Hearings
In 90 minutes of oral arguments, before a packed courtroom, the justices took up the question whether legal challenges to the law by 26 Republican state attorneys general and a national alliance of small business owners is premature because central features of the law, signed in March 2010, have yet to take effect. "I find it hard to think that this is clear," said Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the court's conservatives, at one point. "It is easy to think that it is not clear" (Mondics, 3/26).

CQ HealthBeat: Supporters, Opponents Agree: Justices Want To Resolve Health Care Law Constitutionality Soon
Detractors and supporters of the health care law emerged from the first of three days of oral arguments Monday agreeing that the Supreme Court wants to resolve the measure’s constitutionality without delay. At issue Monday was whether the Anti-Injunction Act bars the court from considering the constitutionality of the law until 2015 (Reichard, 3/26).

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