U.S. holds breath: Ruling on health care law due Thursday
Supreme Court wants the extra days to articulate decision
The suspense is killing us. The U.S. was holding its collective breath for the Supreme Court to render a decision on the controversial "Obamacare" health plan, but the decision has now been put off until this Thursday. David Cole, a Georgetown University constitutional law professor says the issue is "the most difficult case, the most important case, so they may want the extra few days to make sure that they're happy with their written opinions."
The suspense is killing us. The U.S. was holding its collective breath for the Supreme Court to render a decision on the controversial 'Obamacare' health plan, but the decision has now been put off until this Thursday.
What the justices decide on Obamacare will have an immediate and long-term impact on all Americans. Cole adds that saving this ruling for the final day "may not be political, but they understand drama."
The Supreme Court heard three long days of politically charged hearings last March on the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Passed by congressional Democrats despite pitched Republican opposition, the constitutionality of requiring Americans to purchase health care -- or face a fine has long been a bone of contention.
Supporters of the plan say the "individual mandate" is necessary for the system to work, while critics argued it is an unconstitutional intrusion on individual freedom.
To date, four different federal appeals courts heard challenges to parts of the law before the Supreme Court ruling, coming up with three different results. Cincinnati and Washington voted to uphold the law, while the appeals court in Atlanta struck down the individual mandate.
The fourth panel in Richmond, Virginia delayed its decision off until penalties for failing to buy health insurance take effect in 2014.
The hotly contested law has emerged as the signature and perhaps defining legislation of Obama's time in office.
The law passed Congress along strictly partisan lines in March of 2010 - but the controversy then was only beginning. When Obama signed the legislation he called it historic said it marked a "new season in America."
Supporters says the law would reduce health care costs, expand coverage and protect consumers - although for many it was not the comprehensive national health care system liberals had initially sought.
The law establishes a staged series of reforms over several years, including banning insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, forbidding insurers from setting a dollar limit on health coverage payouts and requiring them to cover preventative care at no additional cost to consumers.
One of the most controversial aspects of the complex law is that it requires individuals to buy health insurance, either through their employers or a state-sponsored exchange, or face a fine beginning in 2014.
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Keywords: Obamacare, Supreme Court, constitutionality, Thursday, drama
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