Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act
With an election year around the corner, many in the Obama camp are celebrating a victory after the Supreme Court handed down a decision upholding the Affordable Care Act. Politics aside, many Americans are celebrating at the opportunity to finally have health care without financial burden.
The ruling showed a split court, with a 5-4 ruling in favor of the law. Much of the oral arguments presented to the Supreme Court discussed the individual health care mandate. Opponents argued that Congress over stepped constitutional boundaries by requiring citizens to obtain health insurance or face a penalty. John Roberts, a conservative Justice, sided with the Democratic justices and provided the swinging vote needed to support the measure. Ironically, President Obama opposed Justice Robert's appointment to the Supreme Court in 2005 as a Senator. Roberts wrote the majority opinion explaining why the mandate is constitutional:
The Affordable Care Act's requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax.... The Federal Government does not have the power to order people to buy health insurance. Section 5000A would therefore be unconstitutional if read as a command. The Federal Government does have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance. Section 5000A is therefore constitutional, because it can reasonably be read as a tax.
The rest of the Affordable Care Act was upheld as well, including provisions that require insurance companies to cover patients with pre-existing conditions and allow college students to remain on their parent's healthcare plan until the age of 25. The only measure struck down by the decision was a provision that would cause states to lose Medicaid funding for not complying with all statues in the law. Justice Roberts stated that while the federal government can make requirements for states to receive Medicaid money, they cannot take away existing funding in light of a new law.
Not all are satisfied with the court decision. Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney acted as one of the first to issue criticism. In a press conference, he stated "What the court did not do on its last day in session, I will do on my first day if elected president of the United States. And that is: I will act to repeal Obamacare."
Four conservative justices dissented from the majority, ruling instead to strike the entire statue down. The dissenting opinion criticized what many see as a breach of government power and constitutional state rights:
The Act before us here exceeds federal power both in mandating the purchase of health insurance and in denying nonconsenting states all Medicaid funding. These parts of the Act are central to its design and operation... In our view it must follow that the entire statute is inoperative.
The values that should have determined our course today are caution, minimalism, and the understanding that the federal government is one of limited powers. But the court's ruling undermines those values at every turn. In the name of restraint, it overreaches. In the name of constitutional avoidance, it creates new constitutional questions. In the name of cooperative federalism, it undermines state sovereignty.
While conservatives champion further legal battles, the likelihood of another Supreme Court hearing is extremely unlikely. The Supreme Court rarely overturns its own decisions, and when that occurs, it occurs after a large span of time when circumstances have perceivably changed. The only feasible option for conservatives to change health care policy is a conservative administration following the election year.
Any Mibba users interested in sharing their opinions on the Affordable Care Act or health care in America can visit the Health Care Reform thread on our message board to talk with other interested users.
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