‘Obamacare’ narrowly upheld by Supreme Court in 5-4 decision
By Shauna Ubersox
In a close 5-4 ruling Thursday, June 28, the Supreme Court of the United States voted to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, informally known as “Obamacare.”
The law states as a central provision that all Americans must have health insurance.
The majority opinion was written by Chief Justice John Roberts, who was a key component in the case, and who ultimately cast the deciding vote between the divided sides of the court.
The majority opinion statement says that while the Commerce Clause of the Constitution does not give authority to Congress to mandate that people have health care, other parts of the Constitution do.
Obamacare, initially signed into law in 2010, has been hotly contested since its inception. It has been the focal point of Barack Obama’s presidential career thus far, and now that the law has been upheld, it is sure to be the defining legislative decision of his 2008-2012 term. It will also be a huge hot button in the upcoming election season.
The court did put limits on the huge expansion of Medicaid, stipulating that the government could not withhold a state’s current Medicaid care if the state will not participate in the expansion. In Atlanta Tuesday, June 26, President Obama spoke to supporters about the benefits of his health care plan for the American people.
“They understand we don’t need to re-fight this battle over health care,” he said. “It’s the right thing to do that we’ve got 3 million young people who are on their parents’ health insurance plans that didn’t have it before. It’s the right thing to do to give seniors discounts on their prescription drugs. It’s the right thing to do to give 30 million Americans health insurance that didn’t have it before.”
Instead of creating a universal health care system, this new law prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. This includes more than 120 million Americans younger than 65.
Insurers were also denied the ability to put a monetary limit on health coverage payouts, and they are mandated to provide preventive care free of charge.
Women can no longer be charged discriminatory fees when they need to receive health care; this means women will no longer have to pay 150 percent of what men do to obtain health care. More than 20 million women have already received mammograms and Pap smears under the new preventive care law.
Two-and-a-half million young adults can now remain under their parents’ health care plan until the age of 26, making it far easier to obtain higher education and get established in their own right.
Tax credits given to small businesses will now make it easier for owners to give their employees quality, affordable health care choices. This will allow them to eventually enjoy the same lowered rates as large corporations.
Mitt Romney, one of the largest opponents of Obamacare and the presumptive Republican Party nominee for president in the 2012 election, fired back in a press conference Thursday morning.
“If we want to get rid of Obamacare, we are going to have to replace President Obama,” said Romney. “What the court did not do on its last day in session, I will do on my first day if elected president of the United States. And that is, I will act to repeal Obamacare.”
The Atlantic Wire was informed by Romney’s spokesman that within an hour of the Supreme Court decision, Romney’s campaign grossed $300,000 in donations.
April 12, 2006, while governor of Massachusetts, Romney signed into law a health reform measure similar to Obamacare. Named “Romneycare,” the law requires nearly all Massachusetts residents to buy health insurance coverage or face escalating tax penalties. The law also established state subsidies for those without adequate employer insurance and those whose income was below a certain level.
Regarding the Supreme Court’s upholding of Obamacare, U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill., said in an e-mail Thursday morning: “The opportunity remains for folks in Washington to come together in support of policies that address the rising cost of health care and put patients and their doctors back in charge of health care decisions, without this tax. I will continue working to roll back the harmful parts of this law so we can get health care reform done right. We can start over and in a transparent fashion work to enact bipartisan, step-by-step reforms that guarantee folks in Illinois and throughout the country are able to access health care that is affordable, convenient and high quality.”
U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo, R-Ill., said in a statement Thursday: “The president’s health care law is wreaking havoc on our economy by surging health insurance costs for Americans, hiking taxes, and hurting the efforts of small employers to put Americans back to work. In fact, I have already heard from small business owners in northern Illinois who will either lay off workers or forgo new hires in order to stay below the 50-employee threshold that would require them to purchase costly insurance for their employees.
“Americans are rightfully concerned that their employer-provided health insurance is threatened with this new law, and they don’t want it,” Manzullo added. “I will join with our leaders in the House and support full repeal of the president’s health care law and instead pursue reforms that will truly make health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans without destroying our economy and stifling job creation in America.”
U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said in a statement Thursday: “Since its passage, the Affordable Care Act has caused deep divisions over its constitutionality. While I respect the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court, I am extremely disappointed that the court has given unrestricted authority to the federal government to interfere in the personal lives of American families. This ruling upholds an additional 2.5 percent tax on hard-working Americans, on top of the tax increases that already exist in this health care law.
“I have voted 40 times to fully repeal the government takeover of health care, block the individual provisions, or de-fund certain programs,” Kinzinger continued. “ The question we must ask ourselves now is whether President Obama’s newly designed health care system is feasible. The administration promised that the legislation, if passed, would control rising health care costs while deficit neutral. However, we now know those claims were false.
“The path toward affordable health care starts with allowing Americans to buy insurance across state lines; providing reduced premiums for individuals and small businesses; protecting seniors and those with pre-existing conditions; allowing younger Americans to remain on their parents’ insurance; enacting real medical liability reform, which is a key element to lowering costs; and creating reforms that will protect the doctor-patient relationship,” Kinzinger said.
“We must work expeditiously to enact real reforms that reduce bureaucracy, does not bypass free market principles, and provide Americans with improved and affordable options when choosing their health care,” Kinzinger concluded.
However, the Supreme Court ruling is a sigh of relief for President Obama and his supporters, who have been waiting with bated breath.
“Whatever the politics, today’s decision was victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it,” President Obama said in a press conference Thursday. “Today, I am as confident as ever that when we look back five years from now, or 10 years from now, or 20 years from now, we will be better off because we had the courage to pass this law and keep moving forward.”
Posted June 28, 2012