by Blake Farmer | Mar 19, 2012

NASHVILLE – The upcoming Supreme Court arguments over the 2010 health care overhaul could be a game-changer for Nashville’s biggest industry. Many health care companies are depending on the controversial requirement that everyone purchase insurance.

Industry executives say requiring everyone to buy insurance is essential to making the economics of the Affordable Care Act work for both insurers and medical providers, which make up much of Nashville’s health care industry.

Lyle Denniston is the dean emeritus of the Supreme Court Press Corps. The High Court is considering multiple legal issues, but he says foremost is the so-called individual mandate.

“The industry – if it’s going to abide by this law – needs to have the individual mandate because that’s the source of a sufficient number of customers for them to be able to afford the expanded coverage without raising premiums.”

Denniston was part of a panel discussion organized by the Nashville Health Care Council and moderated by attorney Dick Cowart.

“It’s a definitive case when it comes to health reform, whether it’s determined that the mandate is constitutional or unconstitutional will be a significant economic decision to the health care industry and the entire U.S. economy.”

At the gathering, there was consensus that the Affordable Care Act is unlikely to be overturned in its entirety. However, the Supreme Court could reject parts of the law.

Paul Heldman of the Potomac Research Group says striking down the individual mandate would negatively impact Nashville-based health care providers such as hospital chains.

While deciding whether the federal government can force Americans to buy insurance, the Supreme Court is also considering whether the overall health care law can stand without the individual mandate.