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Obama Administration asks Supreme Court to review the "Individual Mandate"

Earlier this week the Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to review a decision by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled the "Individual Mandate" was an unconstitutional use of the "Commerce Clause".  The mandate requires individuals to purchase health coverage in attempt to curb the growth in costs to hospitals, providers, and the government. The government argues that this a proper use of the clause that would end cost-shifting caused by uninsured patients who can't afford to pay for services out of pocket.  Opponents of the law argue that it overreaches Congress's regulatory power by forcing individuals to participate in a market or activity they otherwise would not. The decision by a three-judge panel of the 11th circuit could have been appealed in two ways; an "en banc" rehearing (with all of the judges of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals) or a direct appeal to the Supreme Court.  A Department of Justice official explained the administration's decision to appeal directly to the Supreme Court by explaining that, "The federal government, state governments, and private insurers all need sufficient lead time to implement the ACA, especially its health insurance exchanges, scheduled to go live in 2014."  The plaintiffs in the case, including the attorneys general of 26 states, are also appealing the ruling, which did not declare the entirety of the law unconstitutional. Legal experts expect the Supreme Court to grant a "writ of certiorari" (the legal mechanism for accepting the case) and hear arguments during their next session.  A ruling would be expected in the summer of 2012. The 11th Circuit case is one of 26 federal challenges to the individual mandate or the ACA as a whole.  Other federal courts at the district and circuit levels have disagreed over whether the mandate is a proper use of the Commerce Clause.

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