The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it will hear five and a half hours of oral arguments on the health care reform law in March. The high court agreed to hear two major questions: whether the law’s key provision is unconstitutional, and if so, whether the entire law’s 450 sections must be scrapped.
The key provision in question is the “individual mandate,” which states that a person must purchase health insurance or pay a penalty tax. 4th District Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy, a former solicitor, say the court could take up the individual mandate separately because there is what is called a severability clause in the law as it is written.
Gowdy says he hopes the court just takes up the law in totality because, for all practical purposes, the ruling on the individual mandate would decide the fate of the entire measure.
AUDIO: Gowdy says the individual mandate is the lynchpin of the health care law
The individual mandate that requires a person to purchase health insurance has been compared to the legal mandate that each driver purchase auto insurance. Gowdy says the comparison is not a valid one because the action of driving is an elective act; and a person could choose not to purchase auto insurance by simply deciding not to operate a motor vehicle.
AUDIO: Gowdy: There is a fundamental difference between the legal mandate to buy auto insurance and the mandate to buy health coverage
Many of the important provisions of the health care law aren’t set to take effect until 2014, so the Supreme Court could decide to delay a decision until after the individual mandate becomes the law of the land. Gowdy says he sincerely hopes the court does not wait and renders a decision not long after hearing the arguments. Gowdy says he thinks that it is prudent that the Supreme Court hear the arguments because health care reform is a highly debated, highly divisive political issue.
The congressman said there is no doubt that the health care costs are spiraling out of control. Ultimately Gowdy says he hopes that if the law is struck down, he would like to see Congress develop legislation that cultivates a climate in which the health care market is more open and competitive in order to let the marketplace work to control costs.
AUDIO: Gowdy: It is prudent that the Supreme Court makes the ultimate decision on the health care law