U.S. Supreme Court questions constitutionality of Obama’s Affordable Care Act

By Whitney Jones, News Editor

After the Supreme Court’s oral arguments on President Barack Obama’s national health care plan late last month, students may have to find coverage sooner than they had planned.

The arguments, which took place March 26-28, centered around four main issues: the Anti-Injunction Act, the individual mandate, the law’s severability and the expansion of Medicaid.

The Anti-Injunction Act is a statute that says people must pay taxes even if the law determining where taxpayers’ money goes is being questioned.

That act and Medicaid account for half the discussion, but the more controversial subjects — the individual mandate and severability — could pose some challenges for students if the health care act is not upheld, said Dr. Sean Evans, associate professor of political science and department chair.

The individual mandate requires every American to have a health insurance policy, and the law’s severability determines whether all of the law is scrapped if it is found unconstitutional.

The most controversial aspect of the act is the individual mandate, said Dr. Steven Heyman, professor of law at Chicago-Kent College of Law at Illinois Institute of Technology, in a video explanation of the act.

“A centerpiece of that law is what is called the individual mandate, a provision that requires everyone in the country to purchase a health care insurance policy from a private insurance company,” he said.

Because the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare, became law two years ago, children can now remain on their parents’ health insurance plan until age 26, according to a White House fact sheet.

Before, health insurance plans required the removal of young adults from their parents’ policies, leaving many college graduates without insurance.

Evans said if the Supreme Court upholds the health care plan, nothing will change, and students can continue to count on their parents’ policies if they do not have jobs that provide benefits.

If the act is considered unconstitutional, the Supreme Court will have to determine whether the entire health care plan is void. Students may then have to rely on their own insurance plans after graduation.

Although the Supreme Court heard arguments last month, students and others will have to wait for an answer until June, when the Supreme Court makes its decision.

With the upcoming presidential election, some people may wonder if scrutinizing Obama’s health care plan will hurt his ratings and chances of re-election.

Evans said that will probably not be the case, especially since more than four months of other issues and news will fall between the decision and the election.

“My basic view is I think it’s going to blow over for the simple fact that the court will rule in June, and people will vote in November,” Evans said. “There will be four months of talk about other things, which will probably be more important by that time. The most that it could affect either President Obama or the Republicans is that a decision could possibly contribute to a narrative that one side will push against the other.”

If the Affordable Care Act is struck down, he said, Republicans likely will use the decision against Obama, saying the Supreme Court reined in big government. If the act is upheld, Democrats likely will use the Republicans’ view that the act was unconstitutional to point out that the party is not in tune with mainstream opinions on the issue.

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.