People on both sides of the argument protested outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, as nine top judges debated healthcare reform for the last day.
Talk centred around whether most Americans can be forced to buy health insurance, known as the ‘individual mandate.’ They also discussed whether President Barack Obama’s flagship healthcare law can be upheld if the mandate is deemed unconstitutional.
“This law offers basic patient protections, against some of the most egregious practices of the health insurance industry that they were subjecting on the public. It is really a consumer protection law,” said supporter Holly Dolan.
Although there will be no decision until June, those against the bill are cheered by a political split among the judges, all appointed by Obama and former presidents.
“I think of the nine justices, that there were five justices who are conservative, that I think were leaning towards striking down the law. And under the rules of the Supreme Court, all you need is a majority vote,” said Paul Mamenar, a lawyer who does not agree with the law.
If the individual mandate stands, most Americans will have to buy insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty.
Healthcare reform was a key pledge during Obama’s first presidential campaign and remains a controversial issue.