The Supreme Court announced Thursday morning that the Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as "Obamacare," mandating every American to purchase health insurance is constitutional and should stand.
The court decided that the government is permitted to penalize individuals who refuse to purchase health insurance, according to NBC News. The Supreme Court ruled that the federal government can levy a "tax" on individuals who do not buy into the system, according to NBC News.
The individual health care mandate is the key provision in Obamacare, and some legal experts thought that it could be ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Had it been stripped from the law, many other provisions–such as covering people with pre-existing conditions and not capping insurance coverage–most likely would have been removed, as well.
The decision is a major victory for the Obama administration, which touted the law passed in March 2010 as its signature legislative achievement. However, there are other Americans who decried the law because of concerns about the federal government's role in regulating the health care industry.
The Supreme Court justices listened to oral arguments on the case in late March before issuing their decision at 10 a.m. Thursday. The court voted 5-4 to uphold the law with Chief Justice John Roberts casting the deciding vote and writing the majority opinion.
Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna recently defended Washington state's participation in the suit challenging the constitutionality of the mandated purchase of health insurance in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to the Issaquah Press.
Health care experts interviewed by the Christian Science Monitor believe that the law can survive even if the mandate is declared unconstitutional.
Even without the mandate, the law’s expansion of Medicaid eligibility would cover some 16 million people, about half the total number of people who would gain insurance if the whole law is upheld, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
In addition, federal subsidies and tax credits for low- and middle-income people to buy insurance in the new marketplaces, or “exchanges” – think Travelocity for health care – will make coverage more affordable.
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