By now, you’ve probably heard about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obama’s healthcare initiative as constitutional. All major television networks have reported it. Pundits are hashing out the particulars for those of us who find the complexities of the 193-page SCOTUS ruling a bit overwhelming. And some cable news outlets are trying valiantly to scrub the egg from their faces. (We’re looking at you, CNN.)
Ultimately, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a go. Five justices agreed that, by upholding the “individual mandate,” which requires that all Americans buy health care, ACA can work as a tax to those who refuse to purchase said care. Since the federal government is allowed to tax, and taxing is constitutional, the individual mandate has also been ruled as constitutional. Individual states are mandated to comply with new Medicaid eligibility requirements or lose any new state funding. Chief Justice John Roberts, whose appointment Obama voted against when he was a senator, cast the deciding vote in favor of ACA.
From the SCOTUSblog:
In Plain English: The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn’t comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.
As of 2010, 256.2 million people were living in the United States without health coverage. Colorlines reports that, of those millions, a disproportionate number are minorities:
Hispanic origin — 30.7 percent
Black — 20.8 percent
Asian — 18.1 percent
White, not Hispanic — 11.7 percent
What do you think of the ruling?