Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Supreme Court: Mandatory health care a "tax" or a penalty

Washington - Yesterday's oral arguments over lawsuits filed by the attorneys general of 26 states challenging the Affordable Patient Health Care Act of 2010 examined whether the law's requirement for individual health care being enforced by the IRS is a "penalty" or a "tax."

A plaintiff attorney explained the position on the matter during the two hours of argument that ensued. Today, the Court begins to hear arguments over the constitutional challenge to the requirement and its supposed taxing power thereby bestowed upon the IRS.

The central question: Does Congress actually have the power under the provisions of Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution to force individuals, employers and governments to purchase health care insurance and back that requirement with punitive actions carried out by tax collectors in U.S. Tax Court should they fail to comply?

Yesterday's arguments centered on the fact that no one has yet failed to obey the strictures of the new law, since it does not take effect until 2014. Therefore, does the matter belong in federal court at this early juncture, or is the litigation premature?

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