On July 10, the House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on the implications of the Supreme Court's ruling that the federal health reform law's individual mandate is constitutional as a tax, The Hill's "On The Money" reports (Becker, "On The Money," The Hill, 7/3).
In a 5-4 ruling written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the majority reaffirmed the law's requirement that most U.S. residents must purchase health insurance by 2014, or pay a penalty. In the majority opinion, Roberts said that the "financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax" and is therefore constitutional.
Roberts wrote, "Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness," adding, "Simply put, Congress may tax and spend. ... The federal government may enact a tax on an activity that it cannot authorize, forbid or otherwise control" (California Healthline, 7/2).
The hearing will focus on the effects of the ruling that "the individual mandate is constitutional on the grounds that it is a tax and that Congress has the broad power to levy taxes far beyond the historic scope of raising revenue," Ways and Means Chair Dave Camp (R-Mich.) said in a statement on Tuesday.
Camp added that the committee has "a responsibility to fully understand the Court's interpretation of Congress' taxing authority and what that means for potential actions taken by future Congresses, the future of our country and the relationship that the government has with the American people."
Witnesses for the hearing had not been determined as of Tuesday, according to "Floor Action Blog" (Kasperowicz, "Floor Action Blog," The Hill, 7/3).