in Houston, Texas
Supreme Court to hear challenge to health care act brought by Texas, 25 other states; AG Greg Abbott says federal government has exceeded authority
Monday, Nov 14, 2011, 11:12AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
Lady Justice

The Supreme Court announced this morning that it will consider a challenge by Texas and 25 other states to the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The court said it will rule whether the controversial health care overhaul violated the Constitution by forcing Americans to carry health insurance and whether the bill is illegal without the requirement, according to the Washington Post.

The Post says the court will also decide whether or not the penalty for refusing to purchase health insurance included in the health care bill constitutes a tax, a point the bill’s supporters have from the start denied.

Should the penalty be ruled a tax, the court would withhold judgment on the entire bill until penalties are levied, the story says.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, at the forefront of the legal challenge to Obamacare, issued a statement moments after the Supreme Court made its announcement.

"With the Supreme Court's decision to hear our challenge to ObamaCare, the federal health care law is closer to an end,” the statement said. “Given the substantial implementation costs associated with this 2,700-page law -- and the unconstitutional mandate that it will impose on all Americans -- we are pleased that the Supreme Court has moved quickly and agreed to hear this very important case.

“As the federal district court and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in this very case, the federal government exceeded the constitutional limits of its authority by requiring all Americans to buy government-approved health insurance."

The court made its decision to hear the case in a private scheduling conference this past Thursday, as a public split on the health care law kept tally of lower court decisions.

Uncertainty and partisanship over such a sweeping change in how health care is delivered and paid for played a major role in how lawmakers in Texas and elsewhere approached their own reforms.

An effort to establish a health care insurance exchange, one of the many new requirements of the health law, was crushed in the past session of the Texas Legislature by Obamacare opponents waiting on the Supreme Court.

Opponents filed more than 25 lawsuits. The Supreme Court accepted the case brought by Florida that includes Texas, two dozen other states and the National Federal of Independent Business.
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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