published Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

U.S. Supreme Court to make a decision on 'your' med care

What medical care you receive and how you pay for it are huge questions that the nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will begin to decide this week.

This week, the nation's highest court will hear arguments on health care reform. The justices will decide whether the health care law passed in 2010 violates the U.S. Constitution.

Their decision will affect millions of Americans, both medically and financially, and set the future direction of American health care.

The court has scheduled six hours of oral arguments over three days -- the longest number of hours set aside to hear a case since 1966.

Under the law, Americans must obtain health insurance, either through private plans or public programs. Those who don't obtain health insurance will pay a financial penalty.

• First, the Supreme Court will decide whether current lawsuits are premature, because of an 1867 law that says people cannot sue over federal taxes until they actually pay those taxes. In this case, that would mean the insurance tax penalty for not buying health insurance, as required under the law.

• If the high court proceeds, as it is expected to do, the justices will wrestle with the question of whether you, as an individual American, can be forced to buy medical insurance.

• Then the court will consider whether striking down one part of the law, like the individual mandate, would make the whole law invalid.

• Finally, the court will consider whether the health care law unconstitutionally coerces states into expanding Medicaid. States that fail to cover more people would lose funding.

Will the high court decide that a mandate that every American must have health insurance is acceptable?

Will the justices render sweeping orders that will affect us all medically, financially and personally?

Whatever their decision, there is no question that the future of all Americans' medical care, our taxes, and our national economy will be enormously affected by whatever the Supreme Curt ultimately decides.

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