Supreme Court upholds Obama’s health care reform law
The Supreme Court upheld President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform law Thursday in a narrow 5-4 decision, giving the president a big election year victory and keeping the law’s sweeping reforms in place.
Chief Justice John Roberts, appointed by former President George W. Bush, joined the Court’s four liberal justices in upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The law affects the way Americans pay for and receive health insurance from private insurance companies.
The majority ruled in favor of the individual mandate that required most Americans buy private insurance or face a penalty, which Roberts ruled “functions like a tax” and is therefore constitutional.
“Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness,” Roberts wrote.
Soon after the Court’s ruling was made public, Obama addressed the nation from the White House, explaining why a mandate is necessary to keep premiums down.
“(The mandate) is important for two reasons,” Obama said. “First, when uninsured people who can afford coverage get sick and show up in the emergency room for care, the rest of us end up paying for their care in the form of higher premiums. Second, if you ask insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions but don’t require people who can afford it to buy their own insurance, some folks might wait until they’re sick to buy the care they need, which would also drive up everyone else’s premiums.”
Obama also defended many of the 2010 law’s more popular provisions in his speech, including banning insurance companies from dropping those with pre-existing conditions and allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26.
“With today’s announcement, it’s time for us to move forward, to implement and, where necessary, improve on this law,” Obama said.
Republicans, including presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney, were quick to renew their calls to repeal the health care law.
“Obamacare was bad policy yesterday, (and) it’s bad policy today,” Romney said. “If we want to replace Obamacare, we need to replace Obama.”
U.S. Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., echoed Romney and claimed the law represents a government overreach into the lives of Americans.
“While I respect the ruling of the Court, they have granted the federal government unlimited power to intrude on the private lives of American citizens,” Camp said in a statement. “I do not believe our Founding Fathers would have ever contemplated a federal government with this much power.”
Health care reform is likely to remain a major issue for both parties heading into November. Obama faces the challenge of winning over skeptical independent voters who support many of the law’s provisions, but not the mandate. Meanwhile, Romney must convince voters that he has a viable alternative to Obama’s plan beyond simply repealing it.
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