Lawyers for the Obama administration and the states trying to get the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (2010) agree: The court should review the constitutionality of the PPACA individual health insurance ownership mandate and other provisions quickly, not wait until 2015.
Twenty-six states and many private groups say a PPACA provision that could require many individuals to own health insurance starting in 2014 is unconstitutional. Many critics also are questioning whether Congress had the constitutional authority to pass PPACA provisions that will require many employers to provide health coverage and many states to expand health program funding.
Some have questioned whether the plaintiffs in the PPACA cases now before the Supreme Court have any standing to bring the suits in the first place. Those observers have pointed out the federal Anti Injunction Act of 1867 bars taxpayers from filing suits to block federal taxes until the taxes have taken effect. Taxpayers would not begin paying the PPACA-related taxes owed starting in 2014 until 2015.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and the other state officials bringing the state suit seeking to declare PPACA to be unconstitutional say the Supreme Court should go ahead with considering the states’ challenge to the individual mandate.
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The anti-PPACA states note that the drafters of PPACA went to great lengths to call the sum an affected uninsured individual might pay a penalty, not a tax.
“When Congress deliberately eschews the label ‘tax’ and the president assures the public that a statute is not a tax, it would circumvent political accountability entirely for a court to then treat that provision as the very thing the political branches insisted it was not,” the anti-PPACA states argue.
Donald Verrilli Jr., the solicitor general for the United States, and the top lawyers at the U.S. Treasury Department, the U.S. Labor Department and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agree in their brief that the PPACA drafters were careful to call the “shared responsibility” amount affected uninsured individuals might pay a penalty rather than a tax.
The Anti Injunction Act “does not bar challenges to every exercise of Congress’s taxing power, but bars only those impositions designated as or deemed to be ‘taxes’ for purposes of the Internal Revenue Code,” Obama administrations lawyers contend.