Panelists Ponder the Affordable Care Act’s Past and Future

September 18, 2013 — The Congress has voted. The Court has ruled. The Affordable Care Act is law. But it will take years to understand the bill — and the battle over its constitutionality.

It was a case that “speaks volumes about the Constitution and the Supreme Court,” said Josh Blackman, author of Unprecedented: The Constitutional Challenge to Obamacare (Public Affairs, 2013) and assistant professor at South Texas College of Law. 

Blackman’s book was the inspiration for a September 16th panel discussion on the case held in Hart Auditorium and sponsored by the Law Center’s Supreme Court Institute. New York Times Supreme Court Correspondent Adam Liptak moderated.

Liptak asked panelist Randy Barnett — a Georgetown Law professor and chief architect of the constitutional challenge to the ACA’s individual mandate — who won and who lost in the Supreme Court ruling. 

“We didn’t save the country from the Affordable Care Act,” said Barnett, referring to the Court’s 5-4 decision in favor of the legislation. “But the other issue was saving the Constitution for the country, and on that we won.”  

As for future litigation stemming from the legislation, panelist Michael Carvin, a partner at Jones Day who argued a portion of the ACA case before the Court, said there are currently 11 cases filed against the Department of Health and Human Services challenging the ACA’s requirement that religious institutions provide insurance plans that cover contraception. 

Other expert panelists included Alan B. Morrison, the Lerner Family Associate Dean for Public Interest and Public Service Law at George Washington University Law School; Erin E. Murphy of the Bancroft law firm and Paul M. Smith of Jenner and Block. Gregory G. Katsas of Jones Day, who had previously agreed to speak on the panel, was unable to attend due to illness. Said Liptak, “He sends word that he’s delighted to have health insurance and wishes that more people had it.”