Can Health-Care Bill Survive Without Individual Mandate?

Supreme Court hearings on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ended Wednesday with the justices considering if President Obama’s health-care overhaul bill can stand without the individual mandate rule.

The individual mandate portion would force Americans to purchase health-care coverage or face a penalty for being uninsured. The plaintiffs say this penalty is really a tax, and is unconstitutional.

Justices must also decide if they must wait to rule until 2016, when the penalty fees from the law would go into effect.

Karen Harned, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Legal Center, said the group feels confident that the bill will not hold up without the individual mandate.

“If you’re a small business owner, you have a lot of reason to hope,” Harned said in a statement. “As we saw yesterday, there is great skepticism that the individual mandate, for the first time, forces all of us to buy a product and it may very well be unconstitutional…. We believe rather than trying to pick and choose which provisions survive or fall, they need to just scrap the whole thing and let Congress start over.”

Harned said the NFIB is hopeful they will have a final decision on the bill by June.

Professor Randy Barnett, Legal Counsel for NFIB, showed even more confidence in the group’s chances on winning the suit.

“After these arguments, if the court strikes down the Affordable Care Act, no one in the country will be surprised,” Barrett said in a statement.