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.