Democratic lawmakers in Washington are worried that the U.S. Supreme Court will toss out some key provisions of President Barack Obama’s healthcare legislation right before next year’s election.
“Of course I’m concerned,” Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, told The Hill
. The high court justices “decide for insurance companies, they decide for oil companies, they decide for the wealthy too often.”
The court announced Monday that it will hear challenges to the law’s requirement that individuals without health insurance buy it and the measure’s expansion of Medicaid. A ruling is expected before the 2012 election, perhaps as early as July.
“We know the Affordable Care Act is constitutional, and are confidence the Supreme Court will agree,” White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said in a statement Monday.
The White House could have requested a full appeals court hearing before the matter went to the country’s highest court, but some lawmakers said it would be better to have all questions of constitutionality answered sooner rather than later.
“Politically, there are arguments both ways,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told The Hill. “But dispelling uncertainty and seeking to resolve important questions of constitutional law when there are very grave practical implications is certainly the responsible course to take.”
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., acknowledged that the individual mandate may be thrown out, but said the rest of the law probably will survive.
“So the mandate falls? Big deal,” Whitehouse said. “I think a family able to keep their sick kids on insurance even though they have pre-existing conditions, kids out of college able to stay on their parents’ policies while they look for that first job with healthcare — things like that are what will stick. Irrespective of what the Supreme Court says, that’s the things people really care about and are counting on.”
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