Today marks the first of three days that the Supreme Court will hear arguments concerning whether the mandated minimum coverage provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which requires that a person purchase minimum health coverage or face a modest monetary penalty beginning in 2014, is constitutional under the Commerce clause of the US Constitution. Both supporters and opponents of the ACA are gathered outside of the Supreme Court.

Before the Justices hear the case, they must first determine whether they are permitted to hear the case under the 1867 Anti-Injunction Act, which states that “no suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax shall be maintained in any court by any person.” In other words, the Act requires that a tax first be paid before it can be challenged in court. The first taxes associated with the ACA would not be due until April 2015.

Currently under the ACA, daughters and sons under 26 years of age can receive insurance through their parents’ coverage, the donut hole for seniors is closing, and certain preventive procedures, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, and pap smears, no longer require a co-payment or other direct costs. President Obama signed the final version of the Affordable Care Act in March. The final law will eventually add coverage for 32 million people, increasing access to family planning and preventive care.

New York Times 3/26/12; Huffington Post 3/26/12; Washington Post 3/26/12

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