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Supreme Court Prepares to Decide Constitutionality of Health Care Law

Arguments begin Monday


The Supreme Court is preparing to hear arguments on Monday over the constitutionality of President Barack Obama's health care legislation.

According to CNN, the court will hear six hours of arguments over three days about the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which was passed in 2010 by a Democrat-dominated Congress. The key provision under debate is the "individual mandate" which requires most Americans to purchase health care insurance by 2014 or face a penalty.

The Los Angeles Times noted how reactions to the health care law are complex, with most Americans wanting health care to be guaranteed, but wary of being mandated by the government to purchase it. The problem, experts say, is affordable health care cannot be guaranteed without inducing healthier people who may not buy health insurance to purchase it and offset the cost.

PBS NewsHour reported that six out of 10 Americans don't know enough about the health care reform law to understand its impact on their lives, while four out of 10 aren't even sure if it has been implemented or overturned, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's latest poll.

Claudia Deane, associate director of the foundation's Public Opinion & Survey Research team, told PBS that despite all the debate over health care reform in the past two years, opinions that Americans have held on the topic have not changed that much. Around 41 percent of the population supports the Act while 40 percent opposes it and 19 percent is undecided.

The Obama administration's Senior White House adviser David Plouffe told CNN's State of the Union program, "Where the American people are right now is they don’t want to go refight this battle again," insisting that the focus should now be on implementing the law well. Bloomberg reported that Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have both said they would repeal the legislation if they won in November.

The Associated Press noted that the case would have political consequences for the upcoming presidential elections, no matter what the outcome. If the Supreme Court threw out the law, it would signal a defeat for Obama, but also re-energize liberals and re-ignite the debate over health care. If the court decided to uphold the law, the Republican argument against Obama's health care reform would be undercut, but would also intensify their urgency to elect a Republican president to overturn the law.

Paul D. Clement will represent the 26 states challenging the law.