On Nov. 14, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear challenges to the Affordable Care Act, setting aside more than five hours next spring for oral argument on this hotly debated issue. Washington and Lee law professor and health care expert Timothy Jost, who believes the law is constitutional, commented on this development in several media outlets, as well as his blog on the Health Affairs website.
Given that several federal circuits have issued decisions on the health care law, the Court had their pick of cases. The justice ultimately elected to hear the case from the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals, which struck down the individual mandate requiring all Americans to have health insurance. Jost told the Washington Times that choosing the case from 11th Circuit made sense because the “case raises all the important issues.”
One of the key questions is whether the health care law can remain intact without the individual mandate. Several experts confirmed in a U.S News and World Report story that even without mandate, most of the law’s provisions will stand. However, Jost argued that the result will mean more expensive insurance for many Americans. "Health insurance would be more expensive for unhealthy people and might be inaccessible to older and unhealthy people," he said.
Most surprising to all involved was the Court’s decision to hear arguments about the health care law’s Medicaid expansion. Jost told the The Hill that a ruling in the state’s favor on the Medicaid issue is even more significant than striking the mandate. “That would be a very revolutionary finding, because it would call into question all federal spending programs,” he said.
Timothy S. Jost is the Robert L. Willett Family Professorship of Law at the Washington and Lee University School of Law. He is a co-author of the casebook Health Law, used widely throughout the United States in teaching health law, and several other works exploring health care in the U.S. and abroad. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine, the American Law Institute and a consumer representative with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
School of Law Director of Communications