MONDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Monday to hear challenges to President Barack Obama's health reform legislation, with a decision expected in June on whether some parts of the controversial initiative are constitutional.
The decision could possibly turn the 2012 presidential election into a referendum on Obama's ambitious plan to provide health care to all Americans.
Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law in March 2010 and, since then, certain provisions have been enacted, such as prohibiting insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and requiring insurers to allow children to stay on their parents' coverage plans until they are 26.
The law aims to extend insurance coverage to more than 30 million Americans, through an expansion of Medicaid and the provision that people buy health insurance starting in 2014 or face a penalty.
Challenges to the law have been heard by four lower courts, only one of which struck down the law's central provision, the so-called "individual mandate," which requires all Americans to purchase health insurance or be fined. The mandate is integral to the reform plan because, in theory, it brings premium rates down as part of state-managed insurance "pools."
Republicans and free-market advocates have charged that the mandate is unconstitutional, giving Congress too much authority to tell Americans what to do.
"The administration is vulnerable because they've never been able to draw a line on what Congress can require people to do and some of the things they can't," said John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank focused on free-market approaches to public policy.
"At hearings and court arguments we've heard the question over and over asked, 'Can the federal government requir
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