(WASHINGTON) — With the hoopla of the arguments surrounding the individual insurance mandate being over, there are two important issues not to be overlooked on Wednesday when Supreme Court hearings on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act continue.
If the court strikes down the individual mandate, what happens to the rest of the law? It contains many provisions that have little to do with the mandate. Should the whole law go down?
Lawyers for the Obama administration say that if the mandate falls, two popular provisions would also fall, but the rest of the law should survive. The most popular part of the law that would fall is the “guaranteed issue” that, in part, requires health insurance companies to offer and renew coverage even if an individual has a pre-existing condition.
But at a recent event hosted by Bloomberg Law and Scotusblog, Michael Carvin, a lawyer representing the National Federation of Independent Business and four individuals, said the entire law must fall if the mandate is struck down.
“Once you’ve ripped the heart and the lung out of the body, it doesn’t matter that the fingers continue to actually move, ” Carvin said. “What matters is if they can move in the way Congress intended.”
The court has appointed a lawyer to argue a third position that was taken by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals: Even if the mandate falls, every other provision of the law should still stand.
To recap: If the individual mandate is struck down, the challengers of the law argue every other part of the law should fall. The government argues that only two popular provisions should fall and the Amicus counsel argues that every other provision should still be able to stand.
On Wednesday the court will also hear an hour of arguments on the law’s expansion of Medicaid.
“In all the excitement of the individual mandate, don’t lose sight of this issue,” Paul Clement, the lawyer for the states, warned recently at an event at Georgetown University Law Center, referring to a part of the law that expands Medicaid.
No lower court has struck down the Medicaid expansion of the law, but the Supreme Court thought the issue was important enough to warrant an hour of oral argument.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
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