Court Reviews Health Challenge

An Atlanta federal appeals court questioned Wednesday whether upholding the health-care overhaul law could lead to Congress adopting other broad economic mandates.

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The court’s three-judge 11th Circuit panel heard arguments in the 26-state challenge to the law, as it reviewed the January decision by Judge Roger Vinson in Pensacola, Fla., finding the law unconstitutional. (Please see “Judge Rejects Health Law.”)

During almost three hours of oral arguments, the judges asked pointed questions about the law’s individual mandate, which the federal government says is needed to expand coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans, according to an article in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution. The court did not indicate when it would rule.

Small-business proponents, including the National Federation of Independent Business and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have voiced opposition to the health law, arguing that it costs too much for small companies.

“Today is a great day for small-business owners and for all Americans who believe in the individual right to determine the time and circumstances under which they will enter the health insurance marketplace,” said Karen Harned, executive director for the NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center, in a statement.

Separately, today’s WSJ highlights a study predicting that 30% of U.S. employers will drop their healt… once the overhaul takes effect. In surveying 1,300 employers earlier this year, McKinsey & Co. found that at least 30% would gain economically from dropping coverage even if they completely compensated employees through other benefits or higher salaries. Further, nearly half said they would consider alternatives to their current plans after 2014, such as dropping coverage and switching to a defined-contribution plan, thereby offering coverage only to certain employees.

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