Affordable Care Act Upheld: Mandate Deemed Constitutional

The US Supreme Court today delivered its much anticipated ruling on the health care reform law, a decision with far-reaching legal and political implications in the months, and years, ahead.

The US Supreme Court today delivered its much anticipated ruling on the health care reform law, a decision with far-reaching legal and political implications in the months, and years, ahead.

In a 5-4 vote, with conservative Chief Justice Roberts voting with more liberal justices Kagan, Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor, the court has upheld the law in its entirety. Justices Alito, Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy dissented.

The opinions for the health care cases are available here (pdf).

UPDATE (2:35 pm): Filmmaker Michael Moore lauded the decision, but reminded Americans that much more work remains. "Let's not forget," he said, "we still don't have true universal health care - 26 million Americans will still NOT be covered under the Obama law. With this victory, we must now keep moving the ball down the field until we have Medicare for All."

UPDATE (11:46 am): Senator Bernie Sanders:Statement on Supreme Court Health Care Ruling

"In my view, while the Affordable Care Act is an important step in the right direction and I am glad that the Supreme Court upheld it, we ultimately need to do better. If we are serious about providing high-quality, affordable healthcare as a right, not a privilege, the real solution to America's health care crisis is a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system. Until then, we will remain the only major nation that does not provide health care for every man, woman and child as a right of citizenship."

UPDATE (11:40 am): Physicians for a National Health Program:'Health Law Upheld, but Health Needs Still Unmet'

"Although the Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the unfortunate reality is that the law, despite its modest benefits, is not a remedy to our health care crisis: (1) it will not achieve universal coverage, as it leaves at least 26 million uninsured, (2) it will not make health care affordable to Americans with insurance, because of high co-pays and gaps in coverage that leave patients vulnerable to financial ruin in the event of serious illness, and (3) it will not control costs. [...]

Research shows the savings in administrative costs alone under a single-payer plan would amount to $400 billion annually, enough to provide quality coverage to everyone with no overall increase in U.S. health spending."

UPDATE (10:32 am): SCOTUS Blog's Amy Howe writes:

"In Plain English: 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. That is all that matters. 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."

UPDATE (10:14 am): The individual insurance mandate has been upheld by the US Supreme Court. According to an initial reading by analysts at SCOTUS Blog: "The Bottom line: the entire ACA (Affordable Care Act) is upheld, with the exception that the federal government's power to terminate states' Medicaid funds is narrowly read."

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For an oversight of the health care law challenges that were before the court read the SCOTUS Blog's Guide to Health Care Ruling by Lyle Denniston or the Center for Media and Democracy's Tips for Courtwatchers with insurance industry-whistleblower Wendell Potter.


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