Breaking: Supreme Court Upholds Individual Mandate

Credit: Wikipedia

Update, 11:02 a.m.: The court also upheld the federal government’s ability to expand Medicaid coverage, but said it could not withdraw existing Medicaid funding from states that opt out of the expansion.  Quote from Justice Kennedy in the ruling, reported on @SCOTUSblog:  “In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety.”

The Supreme Court has upheld the individual insurance mandate that was the centerpiece of President Obama’s health care legislation.

The legislation, called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, was President Obama’s signature domestic achievement and resulted from decades of attempts by the Democrat-led Congress to pass a national health care law.

It has been widely speculated that the Supreme Court’s decision might help Obama’s chances for reelection in November. Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney — as well as Republicans in Congress — have made it clear that they will repeal the measure.

According to an article in the Washington Post yesterday, the court was reviewing four questions:

  • whether it was within Congress’s constitutional powers to impose an “individual mandate” to purchase health insurance
  • whether the entire law must be struck down if the mandate is rejected
  • whether an expansion of Medicaid was unduly coercive on the states
  • whether all of those questions can even be reviewed before the mandate takes effect

The Court rejected the argument that the mandate was unconstitutional. Also, according to initial reports, the Court ruled that the expansion of Medicaid was “limited but not invalidated.”

The vote was 5-4, with Chief Justice Roberts joining Justices Ginsberg, Kagan, Breyer and Sotomayor in the majority. In a surprise, Justice Kennedy joined Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito to dissent.

Baristanet will update this article as more information becomes available.

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59 COMMENTS

  1. Surprising ….I thought vote was 6-3.

    This will have no bearing on November. He’s still a one termer. Let’s see if he is critical about the SPCOTUS now.

  2. You mean that crazy right-wing Supreme Court upheld it? The same ones that said a Corporation has speech rights?

    As one who has constantly wanted and believes in a UNIVERSAL American Health Care program, I am pleased that some who may not have otherwise, will not live with the fear of getting sick. I hope mandating insurance will work for that reason alone. (And if anyone has had a major medical issue can tell you, to see that 100k bill PAID by insurance is good feeling.)

    Though if the Fed can do this because it can “tax” those who choose not to buy insurance, I fear that in years to come, another President may want us to, say drive cars only made after 2005 because of environmental and health reasons, and then “tax” those who fail to get a new car.

    So while this doesn’t change how Obama failed on the economy, it certainly is a victory for him, the uninsured and all Americans.

  3. “Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness”-Judge Roberts.

    I think the roll of govt. in our lives just expanded.

  4. What happens to people who can’t afford it? Will insurance companies lower the premiums? I pay for my own health insurance, and it’s not cheap.

  5. The supreme cout ruled it’s a tax, which should be obvious to anyone who thought about it. Its unfortunate that for political reasons Obama didn’t use this argument when discussing it.

    Still, a victory for the uninsured. Polls that ask questions about it’s provisions, but don’t mention the acts name, show that Americans are for it.

    Way to walk that opinion back about whether this will affect the election. Between this and immigration, Romney’s got his work cut out for him n

  6. Obama himself, as well as his lawyers were unsure if it was a tax, fee or a penalty, arguing all three at times. So let’s not act like even he was sure of what it was.

    Like most things, sure, it makes sense now. But let’s not act like all this was settled an hour ago. Still, this will be big. BUT the economy will still be the issue. Kinda hard to worry about paying a tax or buying health insurance when you don’t have a job.

    I’m still not an Obama supporter. I voted for him last time, but can’t imagine doing it again. But Romney has to BEAT him. Like in boxing, Obama’s the Champ. You gotta knockout the Champ. I think Romney can, but we’ll see if he will.

  7. Hospital companies trading massively higher on what is otherwise a big leg down on Eurozone worries. Like 6%+ with broader market down over 1%.

    Huge victory for Obama, probably and unfortunately for everyone in America, his largest. While I am sure he is happy, it is sad that his largest victory is a SCOTUS ruling affirming his law which a sizeable majority of Americans in every poll did not want. Sigh…..

  8. I wish I had your confidence, Herb.

    “Kinda hard to worry about paying a tax or buying health insurance when you don’t have a job.”–yes.

    I called my husband and told him to start looking around for poorhouses in which we will be soon forced to move.

  9. On election prospects its tough to call the effect here. This energizes the conservative base for sure. Remember a majority of Americans do not support ACA and I think that is even more exaggerated amongst independents.

    Mike, Obama actually was quoted several times saying the individual mandate was explicitly NOT a tax.

  10. Right MM. 4 years later most people without jobs and health insurance would have preferred a job over a mandate to purchase (“pay tax”) health insurance. Oh well.

  11. What a terrible burden this imposes on the individual, who now has to pay a tax for health care insurance rather than go bankrupt in case of illness.

    And those poor jobless people, who would have been hired as hedge fund managers but will now are doomed to a life of collecting used cans and bottles to scrape together money to pay their onerous health care tax.

    The world has gone mad!

  12. If they have no job, what are they going to use to pay for it? Blood? First born?

    I hear kidneys are going for 1000 bucks on the black market. That’s four years of the health care tax! You can even give twice and then go on dialysis, since you’ll have health care insurance! The logic is unassailable.

  13. I have the same question, Mrs. M. That’s the point I was making in my comment above. It seems that this will add an expense onto people who are already struggling.

  14. Yikes!! Folks. Let’s hope this law does what it intends: forces all of us to contribute, and covers those who would not be otherwise.

    To trade in this– I’ll be in the poorhouse, Obama’s bankrupting American, this will kill babies, rabbits and kittens, is well, dumb. This law kicks in in 2014. By then, our economy will be humming along, folks will have jobs and most will have the opportunity to have health insurance.

    I’m being positive and hopeful. So don’t look to me to join in. This is a great day!!

  15. Yep, from having to prematurely take over the fiscal crisis controls from GWB ( while GWB was still in office ) to killing bin laden, to ending two wars , to upholding the rights of the pre existing sick and unisured , to saving jobs in detroit , to holding Gulf polluters accountable ….

    Yes – Obama has been a disaster – only if one is deranged.

  16. The purpose of the individual mandate is to make the insured pool larger, therefore making insurance cheaper. Lower income people get subsidies from the government. Health care exchanges will be set up to encourage people to shop around for insurance. Massachusetts already has this ( thanks to Romney). Competition encouraged lower prices.

  17. I wish I had your confidence, Herb.

    “Kinda hard to worry about paying a tax or buying health insurance when you don’t have a job.”–yes.

    I called my husband and told him to start looking around for poorhouses in which we will be soon forced to move.

    Here’s one example of what your tax dollars have paid for: a friend of mine who is an underemployed freelancer could NOT get insurance to cover a pre-existing condition and she’s not making a lot of money and she has health issues and she’s 60 and well the premiums she would have had to pay to cover herself on crappy plan that didn’t even cover her issue were just too much for her. Well she just got diagnosed with lymphoma. 3 weeks in a good NYC hospital on everyone else’s dime AND now she’s on Medicaid and bankrupt in order to stay alive. We’re all paying for this. It would have been better if she could have just gotten herself on a insurance plan which actually covered her other illnesses (diabetes and asthma). She would have gladly paid a reasonable amount of money for a plan rather than looking at living in poverty for the rest of her life.

  18. Please google “obamacare polls results” … No one in the entire country supports ACA. Independents are massively against it, seniors are against it, etc. The country is so overwhelmingly (way beyond polling error) against ACA. Obama is out of touch. People want jobs, instead he has delivered an invoice for a healthcare plan that people don’t want.

  19. Is Christie going to sign the bill noe to set up the NJ exchange now? He said he was waiting for the supreme court. I’d hate to think it was a veto purely for political purposes.

  20. “Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness”-Judge Roberts

    I just listened to a discussion about how this will play out in the different States. Massachusetts was claimed to be a model State and wll be looked to for implementation in other States. Pardon my cynicism, but I’m going to had fun watching Romney twist and turn and now take credit for his leadership in the “cover every person while only some pay the freight” medical model.

    Nothing has been done to allay costs. So as opposed to Judge Roberts I’m passing judgement regarding the wisdom and/or fairness of this law. It s@@ks!!!!

  21. Stayhyphy, the polls aren’t that one sided and you know it. And as I mentioned above, most Americans are in favor of the provisions in the bill individually. The Republicans have done such a good job of lying about it (for instance, calling it “government-run healthcare”) that there’s a mismatch between the poll numbers for the bill and the poll numbers fir what it actually does.

  22. I don’t see this as handing Obama a victory in November at all — in fact, the opposite. There is no doubt a majority of Americans are against this. I think, if anything, it will motivate people to come out & vote for Romney to try and overturn it. It’s democrats and republicans alike opposed to this horrendous legislation that is a rat’s nest — as witch Pelosi said, “we have to pass it to find out what’s in it!” god help us.

  23. Republicans succeed in painting “Obamacare” as something it’s not (death panels, socialism gone wild, etc), then crow about polls showing the American people don’t want health care reform. When people are polled about what the reform actually means, they are overwhelmingly in favor of it. The tactic is good short-term politics, perhaps, but it’s disingenuous, and bad strategy in the long term, because once people realize that they are indeed better off with reform, it will be time for the GOP to pay the piper.

  24. “Republicans succeed in painting “Obamacare” as something it’s not (death panels, socialism gone wild, etc), then crow about polls showing the American people don’t want health care reform. When people are polled about what the reform actually means, they are overwhelmingly in favor of it.”

    If you really believe this our country is completely doomed. This implies that people cannot take an issue, a law, a proposal, etc., disect it, analyze it and understand what it means for them and make an educated decision about whether they support it or not WITHOUT being spoon fed the components of the law in the form of a one line yes or no question.

    I guess this is the impetus for the liberal thought process/policy approach. People are too dumb to make their own decisions, so we should do so for them.

    Wickard v Filburn cracked the door open, but this ruling knocked the door of its hinges. The precedent related to government being allowed to force people into private contracts simply on the basis that the consideration of such contract can be thought of as a “tax” with respect to health is so dangerous. (Anything can be tied to health, anything!).

  25. @ walleroo maybe death panels is extreme thinking but currently there are poor medical judgements being made when Medicare is primary. For example: yearly skin cancer screening IS NOT allowed – even when the patient has a history of skin cancer. More and more restrictions will take place in order to facilitate so called best practices and universal coverage which in some cases will cause savings only and more than likely be at the expense of some patients.

  26. So the theory in regards to the “Affordable Care Act” is that IF enough people sign up, somehow market forces–the same market forces which have given us UNaffordable health care–will now lower the cost of health insurance? Question: if the Obama Administration and its Congressional allies had actually been concerned about the cost of health insurance, then even without turning to a public option, why didn’t they simply have sought a law that annual premiums may not rise more than, say, the past year’s inflation rate plus 2%? That would have resulted in around 4 – 5% annual increases instead of the 15 – 20% increases I and my self-employed friends have been seeing. Don’t get me wrong–the law did a number of good things, like allowing people with pre-existing conditions access to health insurance. But it did NOT tackle the issue of affordability except with optimism in the healing power of the free market with a broader customer base.

    (And for that matter, why exactly does the cost of health insurance rise, year after year, by 4, 5, 6 or more times the rate of inflation?)

  27. “(And for that matter, why exactly does the cost of health insurance rise, year after year, by 4, 5, 6 or more times the rate of inflation?)”

    Because it can since there are no caps in place. But don’t assume your level of care will also “rise” to the occasion. That has gotten worse, IMHO. I don’t mean that the doctors are not providing care, I mean that their hands are tied due to insurance company mandates, in the types of procedures and tests they can perform without “permission” from the insurance companies.

    And don’t get me started on all the errors being made on the actual insurance forms being filled out the medical staff and coders. I examine every piece of mail I get from my carrier and there have been errors in EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM from 2012.

    For example, I went to a podiatrist for a shot in one of my toes and I was charged for 1. surgery and 2. PT, neither of which I had. I called to complain and it was corrected but still, those are major errors and they happen more often than not. My husband has also been billed for procedures he did not have done.

    Do you honestly think things will improve under the Obama mandate?

  28. jerseygurl,
    I am sorry to hear about your friend. I hope her treatment goes well.

    But under this act, insurers can NOT deny coverage for pre existing conditions. So your friend would have actually benefited from this.

  29. Hi Nellie and Herb, thanks for wondering about old Spiro. I really appreciate it.

    Hope you are all well !

  30. Hi Spiro, The naming of the rhubard drink wasn’t the same without you-you know, the SpiRhu T. Quayle. Hope you are well, too.

  31. You should have won with that one, Nellie.
    Perhaps next time they’ll toss some ice cream
    into the recipe- perhaps chocolate,strawberry or vaNellie.

  32. Hi Kay, I got tired of the old avatar. But I haven’t been to Venice since 1979. Hope you are doing well. Did you ever plant that redbud-or is it planned for next year?

  33. What “victory” for Obama are we in fact talking about here?

    The Supreme Court backing into an issue by declaring that Congress has an absolute right to impose what the Obama administration denied until this very morning its health care bill was, meaning a way to tax folks (albeit for their own Scandinavian-style “good”), isn’t quite full victory by any stretch of the imagination. Now Obama has to sell quickly to Americans the benefits of this new “taxation,” and without the gobbledygook his then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered up when the bill was first passed. (Remember “We have to pass it in order to see what’s in it” or some such?)

    I call this at best a split decision, even as I wonder if Roberts backed off somewhat because, well, he may have been afraid of the sort of public criticism of his Court Obama has already indulged in, such as his pouty foot-stamping during the State of the Union address in the presence of all 9 Justices. This would be a very human consideration by Roberts, however lily-livered of him. But hey, he has to live in the same town with a President who time and again demonstrates his considerable pettiness, and life could be then be very hard indeed for any and all dissenting Justices.

    It’s also kind of depressing to see Baristanet above attempting to serve up political analysis on this whole matter. That really is overreaching.

    And you were away for some reason, Spiro T? Really, I didn’t notice. Now you’re back? You sure? How, pray tell too, does this affect the prices of gas and movie tickets? I’m sure it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling to know you have fans who, uh, missed you. Jesus famously had a few Himself on Palm Sunday, but come Good Friday…Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, Spiro.

  34. Hello cathar my man ! May Allah grant you bountiful blessings of frankinecense and myrrh ! (or at the very least, really spicy felafel, some babaganouj, cardamon and freekah)

    BTW, What’s with this Obladi stuff?

    Obamacare was generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Gubmint, (riffing off Romneycare) , voted into law by the Legislative Branch of the Federal Gubmint, and deemed 100% legal by the Judicial Branch of the Federal Gubmint.

    Not much is left for the opposition except loud rude guys on the AM frequencies and a solemn call to arms by same.

    But where to go? Norway? Sweden? Holland? Kibbutz Ein Hashofet? The options are limited.

    “Obladi-Oblada” was only four tracks ahead of “Happiness Is a Warm Gun”- (Mr. Heston’s favorite Beatle tune). If only “Moses” knew Lennon was being ironic !

  35. According to some reports (admittedly made long after his death), Spiro, Lennon may not have been as ironic there as you seem to assume. There is the “word” of Yoko, yes, but then there is the word of others on this one.

  36. I also suppose, Spiro, that you’ve simply forgotten about the loud, rude and reliably liberal men and women who all seem to dwell, and quite happily indeed, on MSNBC.

    The Scandinavian nations are a joke, Spiro, and I;m sure you realize this. Just the percentage of their residents who join 1%er bike clubs there is out of all proportion when compared to how many do so in America. Thoise countries are falling apart as we banter to so little real effect on Baristanet.

    Nah, I’d head for a well-run if classically chaotic country. Somewhere like Greece as soon as it reintroduces the drachma, say, or Portugal, or Italy if Berlusconi makes a comeback.

  37. Scandinavia is worth a visit or two, cathar. Breathtaking scenery, immaculate streets, – and freshly packaged fish paste, ready to be dispensed onto fresh baked bread from hermetically sealed plastic tubes that Procter and Gamble might have patented just to keep wayward Cincinnatti folks duly employed. Talk about yer happy meals!

  38. I in turn will recommend to you, Spiro (if you haven’t globe-trotted there already) a visit to Malta, a a clean, well-run, fiscally conservative nation, and as you may recall, the last “Euro state’ to sign on for the Greek bailout, Malta’s approval was necessary for that. They even all speak English there, ranging from a bit to quite well. Somewhat rude as a people to the non-Maltese, agreed, but stunning skies and antiquities. And despite that it is something like 98% Roman Catholic (the local Jews of Malta, no Marlowe-ian pun intended, actually advertise in the Yellow Pages there for Jewish visitors to call and help them make up a minyan, their numbers are so small), every town has one or more lingerie ships with the raciest bookihg bustiers, garter belts and spike heeled shoes. So they’re “fun” sort of Catholics, I’m sure. There’s no Scandinavian-Lutheran gloom under Malta’s Mediterranean skies, nosirree!

    And who needs tubes of fish paste, Spiro (which I’ve already had in Nam, anyway, and its appeal is elusive), when the limpuka fish are running seasonally as they head back from Egyot after spawning there?

  39. Cathar, Chief Justice Roberts cited precedent (Hooper v California) that states that the court must consider all avenues in determining whether a statute is constitutional. So you can wonder all you want about Roberts’ “motivations” but you’d be as usual, wrong.

    And a split decision this is not. Fox news and the republicans will try the tax angle, but in the end the benefits outweigh any political repercussions.

  40. I get the trepidation about the government stepping in and taking money, but in this case the alternatives are either allowing people to die based on the inability to afford healthcare, or continue to absorb costs orders of magnitude larger in the long run.

    Should this power be used extremely cautiously? Of course. But if the government can’t weigh in on this, why have it at all?

  41. One thing, probably the only thing, that distinguishes you on this web site, Mike 91, is your absolute and absolutely obvious and total lack of a sense of humor. Or even of irony. (Though you be loads of fun when it comes to pulling the wings off of live butterfiles, I shudder to know for sure.)

    Nevertheless, what was never before referred to by Democrats as a tax has been approved by Justice Roberts because it strikes him as, well, just that, a tax. Suddenly we have a new tax, fancy that! One that it is altogether kosher to impose on Americans. I trust that you of all people, Mike 91, are overjoyed at the prospect of paying this tax.

    And anyone who’s read about some of the social strictures Justices Thomas and Scalia live under from the “tolerant” liberals out there (including much disgusting criticism of Thomas’s interracial marriage) has to at least half-heartedly acknowledge that, yes, Roberts may indeed have caved to some extent in a social sense. It is not a far-fetched assunption, I saw Justice Roberts literally squirm in his seat during Obama’s petty attack on the Supreme Court during the telecast of his State of the Union address. Perhaps you were just pre-occupied by all those butterflies?

  42. I don’t have to pay the tax, cathar, I have health insurance.

    And to assume the Chief Justice of the United States decided a case on anything other than the legal merits is far fetched. But whatever. Wail away!

  43. One early proposal in the Affordable Care Act was a tax on the “excess value” of what were described as “gold plated health plans”. The general idea was employer paid health insurance would remain tax free up to about $5,000 of employer payment per individual or $7.500 per family. Any employer paid premium over that amount would be taxed as income. The individual’s own contribution, if any, wouldn’t count against the threshold.

    The original plan targeted luxury plans for executives with no co-pays, no deductibles, etc. Unfortunately, it also snagged many collectively bargained plans negotiated by unions.

    The general idea was the excess tax would: 1) raise more tax money from the people who have these great plans; 2) encourage co-pays and more prudent healthcare shopping; and 3) encourage providers to keep costs down, the better to stay in cost conscious networks.

    It’s still a good idea, although nobody has an appetite for another tax to finance a system with costs that are largely out of control.

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