Tensions rise as justices kick healthcare ruling to next week

The Supreme Court did not rule on President Obama's healthcare law Thursday, raising tensions before a decision next week.

The ruling was possible Thursday but not expected. The court traditionally holds its biggest decisions until the last day of the term, and the healthcare case is among the most highly anticipated decisions in decades, overshadowing the current term. 

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The next possible day for a decision is Monday, but justices will add more days to the schedule later next week.

Television camera crews set up outside the court Thursday just in case a decision on the healthcare law was released. There is also great interest in an expected court decision on Arizona's controversial immigration law. The Arizona decision also was not released Thursday. 

Interest in the court's docket was also reflected at the SCOTUSblog, which said it had 22,000 visitors on Thursday morning. 

The court's public information office implemented new protocols starting Thursday in order to accommodate the vast interest surrounding the healthcare decision. 

The Obama administration took the opportunity to praise one provision of the healthcare reform law just an hour before 10 a.m., when the ruling might have been issued. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that Americans will receive $1.1 billion in rebates from insurers this summer as a result of the law's medical loss ratio (MLR). This will average about $151 per insured family, the agency estimated. 

The MLR mandates that insurers spend roughly 80 percent of all premiums on healthcare rather than marketing, executive bonuses or other administrative costs. 

The Obama administration continues to talk up provisions of the law as they are implemented. Polls show that, as a whole, the Affordable Care Act remains unpopular with the public.

Legal insiders believe the justices will strike down all or part of the healthcare law, according to a survey released Wednesday.