The United States Supreme Court yesterday upheld the controversial health care law championed by President Barack Obama in a landmark decision that will impact the November election and the lives of every American.
In a 5-4 ruling, the high court decided the individual mandate requiring people to have health insurance is valid as a tax, even though it is impermissible under the Constitution’s commerce clause.
“In this case, however, it is reasonable to construe what Congress has done as increasing taxes on those who have a certain amount of income, but choose to go without health insurance,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. “Such legislation is within Congress’s power to tax.”
The importance of the decision cannot be overstated: It will have an immediate and long-term impact on all Americans, both in how they get medicine and health care, and also in vast, yet-unknown areas of “commerce.”
The most anticipated Supreme Court ruling in years allows the government to continue implementing the health care law, which doesn’t take full effect until 2014.
That means popular provisions that prohibit insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions and allow parents to keep their children on family policies to the age of 26 will continue.
The opinion was a victory for Obama but also will serve as a rallying issue for Republicans calling for repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
Roberts joined the high court’s liberal wing -- Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan -- in upholding the law. Four conservative justices -- Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas -- dissented.
The polarizing law, dubbed “Obamacare” by many, is the signature legislation of Obama’s time in office.
When Obama signed the legislation later that month, he called it historic and said it marked a “new season in America.”
While it was not the comprehensive national health care system liberals initially sought, supporters said the law would reduce health care costs, expand coverage and protect consumers.