Thursday, June 28, 2012

Supreme Court Delivers Word on Healthcare

In a long-awaited press conference this morning, the US Supreme Court finally revealed the results of March’s heated healthcare debate. The US Supreme Court has decided to uphold the Obama Administration’s Healthcare Plan and the Individual Mandate. The decision was complex, forcing the Supreme Court to address and answer four key questions. The first issue, whether or not the matter could be settled by the time the law takes effect, was obviously answered this morning.

Is imposing the Individual Mandate within Congress’ constitutional powers?

The individual mandate was, without doubt, the most hotly debated feature of President Obama’s healthcare legislation. This mandate, also known as the “minimum coverage” provision, would require all US citizens to purchase a minimum level of health care coverage. It was proposed that the Individual Mandate was covered under the charter’s commerce clause to regulate interstate commerce; an argument which was dismissed by the court. In the end, however, it was decided that the mandate was acceptable, because it can be considered a tax.

Would other portions of the Healthcare Plan need to be struck down as a result of the removal of the Individual Mandate?

Though this question formed the backbone of the opposition’s arguments earlier this year, little coverage has arisen surrounding it, today. Because the Individual Mandate is being held as constitutionally viable, it is perhaps possible to consider this question to be answered.

Is an expansion of Medicaid unduly coercive on the states?

The Supreme Court found a reasonable answer to this quandary, but the Washington Post’s Robert Barnes is less sure.
On the Medicaid question, the judges found that the law’s expansion of Medicaid can move forward, but not its provision that threatens states with the loss of their existing Medicaid funding if the states declined to comply with the expansion. The finding immediately raises questions as to how effectively the federal government will be able to implement the expansion of the joint federal-state insurance program for the poor.
For more detail on this morning’s announcement, and the debates that preceded it, you can read our coverage here, and the Washington Post’s description here.


Pam Argeris is a thought leader in the Healthcare Industry and possesses extensive, hands-on experience with CMS compliance, and multiple regulatory bodies such as NCQA, JACHO, and DOI. In her role at Merrill Corp., Pam focuses on developing solutions for compliance and quality assurance, delivered in a cost effective manner to improve beneficiary and prospect communications. You can contact Pam at

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