The only part of the legislation that was struck down was the section that required states to expand Medicaid’s coverage. The Supreme Court found it unconstitutional due to that it threatened existing state funding and that the federal government can’t put sanctions on states who don’t comply to expand Medicaid.
Reuters stated that:
In another part of the decision, the court said Congress went too far in a part of the law that requires states to expand the government’s Medicaid health insurance program for the poor in order to extend coverage to many uninsured people.
The court said this problem was addressed by precluding the federal government from withdrawing existing Medicaid funds from states that do not comply with the expansion, but that this did not require striking down other parts of the law.
The Supreme Court upheld the rest of the law. But they didn’t rule in the obvious way. They argued that the basis of the legislation’s constitutionality lies within Congress’ ability to tax and not on Congress’ ability to regulate interstate commerce.
As a MSNBC article, quoting Justice Roberts, put it:
“The individual mandate cannot be upheld as an exercise of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause. That Clause authorizes Congress to regulate interstate commerce, not to order individuals to engage in it.”
But “it is reasonable to construe what Congress has done as increasing taxes on those who have a certain amount of income, but (who) choose to go without health insurance. Such legislation is within Congress’s power to tax.”
The Supreme Court gave a nod to Republicans and the 26 states who fought against the legislation’s constitutionality by stating that the Federal government doesn’t have the right to legislate individuals through the Commerce Clause. Congress can’t require individuals to purchase healthcare under the Clause, but it can–and has–used it for other laws, such as environmental regulation.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Justice Roberts argued that “the penalty functioned like a tax—and plenty of taxes, like those on cigarettes or other disfavored things, are enacted principally to create incentives rather than raise revenue.”
The penalty, upheld by the Supreme Court, applies to people that don’t get insurance. According to ABC news, “The annual penalty is capped at an amount roughly equal to the cost of the national average premium for a qualified health plan.” In other words, it shouldn’t cost more than before.
It also states that people have a choice of a flat dollar amount–which will start in 2014 at $95 and goes up from there–or a percentage of individual taxable income–starting at 1% in 2014 and goes up from there.
The Supreme Court also upheld the mandate requiring people to pay for abortions. The Covert Abortion Premium Mandate in the bill requires that people “pay a separate premium to fund abortion in violation of their sincerely held religious, ethical, or moral beliefs,” according to Market Watch.
The Democrats’ were clearly overjoyed to see the legislation stand, while Republicans are still hooked on repeal. President Obama stated that “Today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure” and that “It’s time for us to move forward.”
Romney stated that if people want the legislation repealed, they’d have to “replace President Obama.”
Even though the law was upheld by the Supreme Court as mostly Constitutional, it still remains unpopular among the majority of Americans, making this a win and a lose for President Obama and fellow Democrats.