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US Supreme Court Could Rule On Health Law Before Election

The U.S. Supreme Court
Photo by Jarekt
The U.S. Supreme Court

Texas joined 25 other states today in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that the the health care overhaul championed by President Obama is unconstitutional. The U.S. Department of Justice filed its own appeal of a lower court ruling, arguing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act should stand as is. The showdown could provide an up-or-down vote on the law in the middle of the 2012 campaign season.

The filling from the 26 states targets three core provisions of the act:

Its Medicaid expansions, which Congress has forced upon the States by threatening to withhold billions in federal funding unless States comply; the employer mandates, which impose harsh penalties upon States that do not offer their employees a federally mandated level of insurance; and the Act‘s individual mandate, which requires nearly all individuals (including those currently eligible for, but not participating in, state-funded Medicaid) to maintain health care insurance or pay a penalty to the federal government.

In August, the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Congress does not have the power to force people to buy health insurance, delivering a victory to the opponents of the health care law . But that court also rejected the states’ claims that Congress went too far in expanding Medicaid. And it said the rest of the law could stand if the individual mandate portion was struck down.

The 26 states’ filing today argues that was a misapplication of the law, because the 11th Circuit Court “left standing provisions of the Act that even the government conceded were inextricably intertwined with the mandate” requiring most people to have health insurance.

The Justice Department filing says millions of Americans have no health insurance, but yet they “consume health care services for which they do not pay, and thus shift billions of dollars of health care costs to other market participants. ”

Kaiser Health News has this helpful roundupof coverage on today's developments.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.