GW Law Faculty Offer Health Law and Policy Expertise on Historic Supreme Court Case

In a recent GW roundtable discussion with healthcare law and policy experts, GW Law Professor Peter Smith and Milken Institute of Public Health Professor and GW Law Professor by Courtesy Sara Rosenbaum offered insight and analysis on a significant health law case that will be heard before the Supreme Court over three days, beginning on Monday, March 26. 

The roundtable was sponsored by the Law School, the Milken Institute of Public Health, and the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, demonstrating GW’s cross-departmental expertise. The participants examined the complicated issues surrounding the Supreme Court case which challenges the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. 

In the two years since President Obama signed the bill into law, GW Law faculty have been at the forefront of scholarship and news on the topic, analyzing the many implications of the bill, and providing law students an unprecedented real world tutorial of healthcare issues and the interdisciplinary nature of the law. 

Professor Smith, a constitutional law expert, noted the case raises vital questions regarding constitutionality, federal and state relationships, congressional authority, public opinion, and the role of the courts that offer lessons for all areas of law. He summarized the debate over the constitutionality of the bill’s requirement that most Americans carry specified health insurance by 2014 and its relationship to the anti-injunction act, among other issues. 

"The Affordable Care Act presents an opportunity to discuss not only a policy issue of paramount importancehealthcare and health insurance reformbut also important questions of constitutional law," Smith said. 

Other GW faculty on the roundtable included Political Science Professor John Sides, Public Health Professor Katherine Hayes, and Trachtenberg School of Public Policy Professor Elizabeth Rigby who introduced the guests. Former U.S. Senate Finance Committee staffer Mark Hayes, and former House Commerce Committee Health Subcommittee Counsel Andy Schneider also provided insight into the potential aftermath of a decision by the Court.  

Professor Rosenbaum, a health law expert, offered an insightful overview of the healthcare issues that led to Monday’s Supreme Court hearing. “This case is a milestone from so many vantage points, from its impact on Congressional powers to solve major national crises to the future of the healthcare system, to its implications for one of the most defining Presidential elections in recent memory,” Rosenbaum said. 

She noted the fine legal work that has been conducted on this complicated issue, as numerous high level briefs have been written in the last two years. She also highlighted issues central to the case, which other roundtable participants explored further, such as arguments over minimum coverage and Medicaid in the bill.  

“I cannot recall a more serious question of law, politics and policy facing the nation, at least not on matters of U.S. social welfare policy,” Rosenbaum said. 

The roundtable offered an informative and engaging re-cap of the issues to consider in both the upcoming case and the healthcare reform debate as a whole. “We hope that roundtable discussion will be a model for inter-disciplinary study, and for future efforts to bring together scholars and policy-makers," Smith said.

Watch Video From the Event 

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