The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) is taking its case against the Affordable Care Act to the Supreme Court, filing a petition asking the High Court to hear its argument on why the entire act – not just the individual mandate portion – is bad for business and should be thrown out.
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In June, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the individual mandate, which requires all U.S. residents to purchase health insurance by 2014, or face a fine. But the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in August that the individual mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act violates the U.S. Constitution, declaring that Congress exceeded its authority by requiring Americans to buy coverage.
Karen Harned, executive director of the NFIB's Small Business Legal Center, said the group is hopeful the court will have an answer by June 2012.
"I think it’s highly likely the [ruling] will be in this term," she said. "We are also hopeful that the Court will not only answer if the individual mandate is unconstitutional, but also if it is found to be unconstitutional, will the rest of the law fail?"
Small business owners are already facing extreme uncertainty surrounding job creation, growth and the economy, she said, so clearing this up could only help. Without knowing if the Affordable Care Act will be upheld in court, it’s impossible for business owners to plan for their futures, she said.
"Throughout this entire process, Congress and the [Obama] Administration have said the individual mandate is essential to the working of the law," Harned said. "When pressed they can't answer the question, but fall back on the answer that the health care system is 'unique.' That is all fine and good, but that's not something they can apply as a standard going forward."
Harned said forcing Americans to purchase health insurance plans takes governments' role to a new extreme, and the NFIB is hopeful the Supreme Court will see their side of the argument.
"The government can't make us buy any other product for the good of the economy," she said. "It doesn't take a lot of imagination to see how this could be extended as far as what they are asking us to do. Hopefully the court will see this is a bridge too far."