Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07) has introduced the "Americans Need a Health Care Ruling Act"(H.R. 3558). If approved, the legislation would exempt the 2010 health care law from an obscure 1867 tax provision and pave the way for the United States Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of the legislation later this summer.
"Unless you practice tax law you probably have never heard of the 1867 Anti-Injunction Act," said Lance. "But this obscure tax provision could delay a final ruling on the constitutionality of health care reform until 2015. Waiting for a decision on the constitutionality of the health care law until 2015 could be disastrous for U.S. businesses and our economy by continuing to deny regulatory certainty in this area."
The Nation's highest court agreed to consider four key questions concerning the constitutionality of the health care law including whether Congress had the authority to require individuals to buy health insurance by 2014 or pay a tax penalty. Legal scholars differ over whether the health care law adds a "tax" for those who lack insurance or instead imposes a "penalty" that must be paid to the Internal Revenue Service.
Yet under the Anti-Injunction Act of 1867, judges are barred from deciding on tax cases until the tax has been paid. The 1867 Act essentially says that before you challenge a tax, you must first pay the tax. Therefore if the Supreme Court justices find themselves closely divided on the issue the court could invoke the Anti-Injunction Act and put off a decision until 2015, when the first taxpayer pays a penalty for not having insurance.
For more than a year Lance has advocated that the U.S. Supreme Court rule expeditiously and spare the Nation years of litigation and uncertainty.
"The constitutionality of the 2010 health care reform law is among the most important issues to come before the High Court in many years and the Court's decision will have significant consequences for the American people," said Lance. "The Nation should not have to wait until 2015 for its ruling."