An important week in health care? You might say that. In the most closely watched legal showdown since Bush v. Gore — and in...

An important week in health care? You might say that.

In the most closely watched legal showdown since Bush v. Gore — and in the biggest medically related case since Roe v. Wade — the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the 2010 health reform law.

We are about to hear plenty about terms such as individual mandate, severability, Medicaid expansion and the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court has scheduled six hours of arguments over three days, the most for any case in 45 years.

While cameras are still forbidden in the courtroom, the court has changed its rules to release audiotape and transcripts of the arguments each day, the Washington Post notes, in an article that underscores the importance of the case.

The justices will review a decision by the federal appeals court based in Atlanta, which struck down the requirement in the Affordable Care Act for most people to buy insurance. That decision left the rest of the law intact, including a vast expansion of the Medicaid program for people with low incomes.
But the justices, as in any case, are not bound by the limits of the lower court ruling. They will examine the Affordable Care Act in detail, including parts that no judge so far has found constitutionally questionable.

Georgia is among the 26 states whose challenge to the law resulted in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision. State Attorney General Sam Olens will be present at the Supreme Court hearing.

“The U.S. Supreme Court will hear one of the most consequential constitutional questions of our lifetime: whether or not the Congress has the power to force individuals to purchase a product,” Olens said in a statement last week.

“The Constitution clearly places limits on the authority of the federal government, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act flagrantly exceeds that authority.’’ Olens said.

Here’s the New York Times’ look at the lawyers involved in the marathon legal battle.

The court’s decision is expected in late June.

In Atlanta on Monday, the consumer group Georgians for a Healthy Future, along with other organizations, will hold a rally at the state Capitol in support of the health reform law. The Georgians group says it will use the event to show how the law ‘‘is an important step forward in reforming our broken health care system.’’

The Affordable Care Act supporters also will deliver a petition to the offices of Gov. Nathan Deal and Olens, asking them to ‘‘support progress in health care reform, for the thousands of Georgians who have already benefited and those who have yet to see the benefits of future provisions.’’

Deal, like Olens, is a longtime opponent of the reform law.

Also this week, the Georgia General Assembly is expected to conclude its 2012 session, most likely on Thursday. Still in play as adjournment nears are pieces of legislation on abortion, contraception, and drug testing of welfare applicants, as well as a bill requiring ‘‘personal growth’’ activities for food stamp recipients.

Numerous other bills involving health care will come up for votes. We at Georgia Health News will be following the action, both in Washington and Atlanta.


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Andy Miller

Andy Miller is editor and CEO of Georgia Health News

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