Supreme Court to Decide Case on Federal Health Care Reform

Nov 15, 2011

The Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether it's constitutional to make Americans buy health insurance -- and if not, whether the rest of the health care overhaul can take effect.  The court's announcement means some uncertainty for Connecticut and states across the country.

At least two broad issues will be in play when the court hears oral arguments in the case next year.  First is the question of whether the part of the law that requires individuals to buy health insurance or face a penalty is constitutional.  Second is the question of whether the federal government can force the states to expand Medicaid programs and provide health care to more of the nation's poor.  Twenty-six states oppose that measure. 

John Thomas is a professor at the Quinnipiac School of Law. He says both issues get to the core question of the power of the federal government.  In the meantime, the court's intervention could pose a hiccup for state officials trying to implement various provision of the new law by 2014.

"But now that there's a possibility that the court would strike down all or parts of it, it leaves sort of a vacuum.  It's a problematic scenario for states."

Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman says state administrators will have to follow what, if any, changes come out of the supreme court's eventual decision.

"There are a lot of good people working on these programs, and I think that all of us are flexible enough to change if there's a decision coming down from the federal government or the courts."

A ruling is expected by late June, just over four months before Election Day.