Thursday, June 28, 2012

Supreme Court Decides on Healthcare Issue

The State Chamber of Commerce just sent this out - I thought I would share it with you.

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act’s Individual Insurance Requirement

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the individual insurance requirement at the heard of the Affordable Care Act – President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul –saying the mandate is permissible under Congress’s taxing authority.

The court voted 5-4 in favor of the reform on Thursday in rejecting arguments that Congress went too far in requiring most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty.

The decision means the overhaul will continue to go into effect over the next several years, affecting the way that many Americans receive and pay for their personal medical care.

Chief Justice John Roberts announced the court’s judgment that allows the law to go forward with its aim of covering more than 30 million uninsured Americans.

The court found problems with the law’s expansion of Medicaid, but said the expansion could proceed as long as the federal government does not threaten to withhold states’ entire Medicaid allotment if they don’t take part in the law’s extension.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor joined Roberts in voting to uphold the individual insurance requirement.

Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

The case began almost as soon as Obama signed the law on March 23, 2010. Even before the day was out, Florida and 12 states filed the lawsuit that ended up at the Supreme Court. Another 13 states later joined in later.

The law was designed to cover an additional 30 million Americans with health insurance.

The heart of the challenge was the claim that Congress could not force people to buy a product — health insurance.

The administration advanced several arguments in defense of Congress' authority to require health insurance, including that it falls under the power to regulate interstate commerce.

The government also argued that the insurance requirement was necessary to make effective two other undoubtedly constitutional provisions: the requirements that insurers accept people regardless of existing health problems and limit what they charge older, sicker people.

The administration also said that even if the court rejected the first two arguments, the insurance requirement and penalty are constitutional as an exercise of Congress' power to enact taxes. The penalty assessed for not buying insurance functions like a tax, the government said.

The full text of the Supreme Court’s decision can be accessed by clicking here.

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