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Supreme Court Begins Review of Affordable Care Act
Date:3/26/2012

individual mandate can be struck down while leaving the rest of the law intact.

"There are 50 million people in this country who don't have health insurance. The Affordable Care Act will probably extend coverage to an estimated 30 to 32 million of those people," said Renee Landers, a professor at Suffolk University Law School in Boston.

In a recent New England Journal of Medicine commentary, Landers described arguments for and against severability.

Opponents have said that provisions of the legislation are too intertwined for the law to stand without the individual mandate. The Obama administration has said the law can still work without the mandate, but provisions such as prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions would be greatly compromised without the mandate.

Budget office sees savings; opponents skeptical

Here's how the health-reform law is designed to provide health insurance to uninsured Americans:

  • Individual mandate. It requires most adults to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. By 2016, the phased-in penalty will reach either $695 or 2.5 percent of yearly taxable income, whichever is greater. People with incomes below tax-filing thresholds will be exempt from the provision. Up to 16 million people are projected to join the rolls of the insured under the mandate.
  • Medicaid expansion. This would increase eligibility to all people under age 65 with annual incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level -- about $14,850 for a single adult and $30,650 for a family of four in 2012. Non-disabled adults under 65 without dependent children were previously ineligible. Another 16 million people are estimated to gain insurance under the expansion.
  • State-run insurance exchanges. They will be created to help small businesses and individuals purchase insurance through a more organized and competitive market.

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