Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act’s Individual Insurance Requirement

In today’s big news, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the individual insurance requirement that was the key part of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, by a vote of 5-4. The court rejected arguments that Congress went too far in requiring most Americans to either have health insurance by 2014 or pay a fine.

The decision, reported by the Associated Press, hinged on whether or not it’s constitutional to require Americans to have health insurance. According to reports the relevant part of the mandate, Section 5000a, doesn’t need to be read as doing anything more than imposing a tax.

So under the taxing power of the Constitution, a tax can be levied on people who refuse to buy health care, rather than a requirement to buy a product, like say, broccoli — just one example brought up during the arguments over the mandate.

The Washington Post says Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the ruling and sided with the majority in voting to uphold the law, which is Obama’s signature domestic initiative.

In addition, the judges also found that the law’s expansion of Medicaid can move forward, but not its provision that threatens states with the loss of their existing Medicaid funding if the states declined to comply with the expansion.

This may not be the end of the story for the Affordable Care Act. Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has pledged to repeal the legislation if he wins the election and his party maintains control of Congress.

“This is a victory for consumers,” said Jim Guest, President of Consumer Reports. “Health reform is alive and well and will benefit all of us. But today we are especially thinking of the seriously ill children who will continue to be able to get critical care, the young adults who can stay on their parent’s insurance, and the seniors who can better afford the prescription drugs they need. For these people and the millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions, the uncertainty is over.”