Supreme Court upholds Obamacare

POSTED: Thursday, June 28, 2012 - 9:30am
UPDATED: Thursday, June 28, 2012 - 9:47am

U.S. — According to CNN, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday to uphold President Barack Obama's health care law, with justices upholding a key provision requiring people to have health insurance.

According to ScotusBlog, the decision was made in a 5-4 vote. According to Justice Roberts, "Nothing in our opinion precludes Congress from offering funds under the ACA to expand the availability of health care, and requiring that states accepting such funds comply with the conditions on their use. What Congress is not free to do is to penalize States that choose not to participate in that new program by taking away their existing Medicaid funding." (p. 55)

In plain English, according to Scotus, The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional.

There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power.

Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding.

On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn't comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.

In Justice Roberts opinion: "The mandate primarily affects healthy, often young adults who are less likely to need significant health care and have other priorities for spending their money. It is precisely because these indi­viduals, as an actuarial class, incur relatively low healthcare costs that the mandate helps counter the effect of forcing insurance companies to cover others who impose greater costs than their premiums are allowed to reflect. If the individual mandate is targeted at a class, it is a class whose commercial inactivity rather than activity is its defining feature.

The Government, however, claims that this does not matter. The Government regards it as sufficient to trigger Congress's authority that almost all those who are unin­sured will, at some unknown point in the future, engage in a health care transaction. Asserting that "there is no temporal limitation in the Commerce Clause," the Gov­ernment argues that because "everyone subject to this regulation is in or will be in the health care market," they can be "regulated in advance."

Click here for a link to the full official Supreme Court opinions.

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