Today brings to a close a week of oral arguments in the biggest court case since Brown v. Board of Education in 1953. On or before June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court will render its decision on NFIB v. Sebelius. In doing so, it will have answered one locally important question: Was Montana right to wait out a key requirement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (known more popularly as ObamaCare), or will the state soon have to scramble to comply?
"We were the only business association with the courage to stand up to the greatest Congressional intrusion on individual liberties in our nation's history, and when we filed our lawsuit two years ago, most people dismissed it as frivolous," said Riley Johnson, Montana state director for the National Federation of Independent Business, America's leading small-business association and the named plaintiff. "But when the looming effects of the law, which former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi revealingly said had to be passed before anyone could be told what was in it, started to come into sharper focus, opinion about our action instantly switched from petty to prescient."
A component of PPACA, or ObamaCare, required every state to establish its own health-insurance exchange or have one forced on it by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. The 2011 Montana Legislature chose not to start building one, but an interim committee of the Legislature continues to study it, causing many to believe Montana will miss the deadline for having one (the state has already returned some federal money sent for its construction).
"I am confident the Supreme Court will rule the individual mandate in ObamaCare unconstitutional, but whether it will strike down the entire law, which we and 26 states have asked it to do, remains to be seen," said Johnson. "If the health-insurance exchange survives the ruling, it means in all likelihood the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services will develop an exchange for the state."
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