Supreme Court hands down historic decision on President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
The law, it was decided, is constitutional as a tax mandate. In a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled to uphold the much contested individual mandate. By 2014, individuals must purchase health insurance or be penalized. The law will moderately affect those who currently have health insurance.
Among the provisions of the health care law is the requirement of insurance companies to insure individuals up to 26 years old under their parents’ insurance. In addition, insurance companies cannot deny insurance or charge higher rates to people who have pre-existing conditions.
“I know there will be a lot of discussion … about the politics of all this, about who won and who lost,” Obama said, “That’s how these things tend to be viewed here in Washington. But that discussion completely misses the point. Whatever the politics, today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it.”
Voting to uphold the law were Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Chief Justice John Roberts.
The court’s ruling was somewhat surprising because many assumed Justice Anthony Kennedy would be the deciding vote. However, Chief Justice Roberts,--a President George Bush appointee—not only sided with the liberal members of the court but also wrote the court’s decision. Justices Samuel Alito, Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.
“This is a major victory for the Latino community and I cannot stress this point enough,” said former Colorado State Sen. Polly Baca prior to a press conference by Health Care for All Colorado on June 29. What this ruling does, and I think what the Obamacare does … is force health insurance rates to go down,” she said. A supporter of universal health care, Baca expressed that Affordable Health Care Act is a “step in the right direction.”
While the White House views the ruling as a victory, Republicans have expressed a new sense of purpose leading into the November elections.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives will hold a vote on July 11 in an effort to repeal the law. However it is expected that the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, will prevent the law from being overturned.
Already the ruling has received opposition from notable Republicans such as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Florida Gov. Rick Scott who’ve said they will not implement the Affordable Care Act in their state, instead waiting after the presidential election expecting Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to defeat Obama.
States can decide if they want to expand their Medicaid program as well as set up health care exchanges (a type of marketplace for individuals and businesses to purchase their insurance). Several Republican governors in other states have said they oppose the law and these provisions. The court struck down part of the law that forced states to expand their Medicaid program or lose funding toward medical assistance.
Opponents of the law, and the court’s ruling, have said the law will not only increase costs for single payers, but also for small businesses who are already struggling in hiring new employees and retaining current ones.
Businesses with less than 50 employees are exempt from having to provide health insurance.
Romney has said that if elected, he will repeal the law. “Obamacare is a job killer,” Romney said. “Businesses across the country have been asked what the impact is of Obamacare. Three quarters of those surveyed by the Chamber of Commerce said Obamacare makes it less likely for them to hire people. And perhaps most troubling of all, Obamacare puts the federal government between you and your doctor.”
The debate about how the Affordable Care Act will affect the American people persists, but with the court’s ruling in place, it leaves the door open for voters to decide how they would like to proceed come November.