Wyoming officials welcome Supreme Court decision to review Affordable Care Act

2011-11-15T08:00:00Z Wyoming officials welcome Supreme Court decision to review Affordable Care ActBy JOAN BARRON Star-Tribune capital bureau with wire reports Casper Star-Tribune Online

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to review the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March was welcomed Monday by people on both sides of the issue in Wyoming.

Gov. Matt Mead reiterated his opposition to the federal health reform law but added that people want certainty.

“We’ve been in limbo too long,” the governor said in an e-mail.

“This is why I asked President Obama in February to petition the Court for an expedited hearing on the ACA. I am glad the President made that request, and I am pleased that the Supreme Court will hear this case in 2012. The sooner the better in my book,” he added.

Barb Rea of Casper is a volunteer on health care policy for the Equality State Policy Center. She too said the issue needed to be resolved.

“I’m looking forward to a resolution so we can get down to the work of fixing health care,” Rea said.

Rea said that while she doesn’t believe the court will overturn the law, there will still be plenty of work to do at the state level regardless of what happens.

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., is a physician and erstwhile opponent of the Affordable Care Act, which is labeled “Obamacare” by its critics.

Barrasso is confident the Supreme Court will declare the law unconstitutional.

“Throughout the history of our country, America’s leaders in Washington understood they did not have the constitutional authority to force people to buy a specific product,” Barrasso said in a media release. “This president set a new precedent in 2009 by mandating that Americans purchase health insurance. He completely ignored the Constitution and the will of the American people.”

The Supreme Court on Monday promised an extraordinarily thorough review of President Barack Obama’s historic health care overhaul — more than five hours of argument, unprecedented in modern times — in time for a likely ruling affecting millions of Americans just before the presidential election.

That ruling, expected before next summer’s Independence Day holiday, could determine the fate of Obama’s signature domestic achievement, the most far reaching domestic legislation in a generation but a political lightning rod as well. It is vigorously opposed by all of Obama’s prospective GOP opponents.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act aims to provide health insurance to more than 30 million previously uninsured Americans. But Republicans have branded the law unconstitutional since before Obama signed it in a ceremony in March 2010.

Tim Jost, a legal expert on the health care reform law at Williams and Mary College, said he expects the Supreme Court to uphold the law 7-2 or 8-1. The only sure “no” vote will be cast by Justice Clarence Thomas, Jost said.

Some of the most conservative Republican-appointed judges in the country have upheld the law as constitutional, he said.

“I’m confident the Supreme Court will go the same way,” Jost added.

The Supreme Court justices said they will hear arguments from lawyers on the constitutionality of a provision at the heart of the law, and three related questions about the act. The central provision in question is the requirement that individuals buy health insurance starting in 2014 or pay a penalty.

The McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform case in 2003 was the last time the justices allotted five-plus hours for oral arguments.

Some legal authorities say the case is the most important one to come before the court in 80 years.

Jost said the Supreme Court agreed to review four issues:

n Whether the court has jurisdiction over the case since a portion of the law doesn’t go into effect until 2014.

n The challenge to the individual mandate requiring people to buy health insurance.

n The expansion of Medicaid benefits.

n The severability of the individual mandate, which would allow the rest of the law to stand if the mandate is ruled unconstitutional, which Yost said he doesn’t expect.

Contact capital bureau reporter Joan Barron at 307-632-1244 or joan.barron@trib.com

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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