Supreme Court upholds Obama health care law - KMSP-TV

Supreme Court upholds Obama health care law

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(Photo by Onecle under Attribution, Share-Alike CC license) (Photo by Onecle under Attribution, Share-Alike CC license)
WASHINGTON, D.C. (NewsCore) -

In a major victory for the Obama administration, the US Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the entirety of President Barack Obama's health care law is constitutional.

In a 5-4 vote, the justices ruled the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's individual mandate G which requires citizens to buy health insurance by 2014 or else pay a penalty G was constitutional under the taxing power of the government.

Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the four more liberal members of the court while Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Kennedy dissented.

Roberts, writing for the majority, noted that while the individual mandate fell afoul of the Constitution's Commerce clause, it should be upheld under the government's power to tax its people.

"Our precedent demonstrates that Congress had the power to impose the exaction in Section 5000A under the taxing power, and that Section 5000A need not be read to do more than impose a tax," Roberts wrote. "This is sufficient to sustain it."

Kennedy, writing for the minority, said, "In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety."

President Obama addresses the ruling at 11:15 a.m. from the White House.

He said the Supreme Court's decision to uphold his health care law was a victory for the American people.

"Whatever the politics, today's decision was a victory for people all over the country whose lives will be more secure because of this law," the president said from the East Room of the White House.

The president acknowledged that debate over the law had been "divisive" and said that he respected the view of its opponents.

"It should be pretty clear by now that I didn't do this because it was good politics," he said. "I did it because it was good for the country."

"The highest court in the land has now spoken. We will continue to implement this law," he added. "With today's announcement, it's time to move forward."

The Supreme Court has settled the legal argument. Now Americans will find out if President Barack Obama's health care overhaul will work as advertised to give coverage to millions of uninsured people while keeping costs in check, too.

Under the law, states play a key role in delivering new health insurance coverage to millions of lower-income and middle-class people.

But Republican-led states have resisted, and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners expects only about half the states to be ready to set up new health insurance markets, slated to open for business in 2014.

The high court upheld the remaining sections of the 2,700 page law, and further held that the health care law's requirement that states increase Medicaid eligibility or else lose all federal Medicaid funding is not unconstitutionally coercive.

The suit to block the law was brought by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business.

Pam Robbins, Campaign for Better Health Care board member and consumer advocacy representative, calls the US Supreme Court decision on the president's healthcare plan a "wonderful victory."

"The ability to have the Affordable Care Act to be upheld even though they're questioning the ability of what we call the individual mandate, it's going to allow people to be able to purchase insurance in the state of Illinois and in the country," Robbins said.

The Affordable Care Act has determined that in 2014, nearly 2 million residents in Illinois will be able to purchase healthcare insurance through the state.

"Our state back in 2010 decided in the general assembly that they were going to go forward with the insurance exchange in Illinois," Robbins said. "Our Department of Insurance has continued to work on the infrastructure to build this insurance exchange which is through the Affordable Care Act. So that is an important piece to request Governor Quinn to sign that executive order so we can move this insurance exchange forward and get that federal match with the government which is through the Affordable Care Act."

In terms of funding for Illinois healthcare, Robbins said the Department of Insurance is currently and has been building the infrastructure of communication.

"There are navigators that need to help assist people to find the right kind of coverage and what kind of coverage they want to purchase, making sure their ability to purchase that insurance is very transparent and that they can be identified and notified if they're going to have the opportunity to purchase a different kind of set of insurance through different rates," Robbins said. "The ability to have everybody in the pool, a larger risk pool, brings down the healthcare insurance costs and it decreases the insurance rates too."

Opponents to the Obama care plan say the act is too broad, hurts business and questions if it really brings down costs. However, Robbins rejects that line of thinking entirely.

"Because of preventative care the country is able to purchase insurance that prevents their illness, that prevents their chronic illness getting to a point where you have irreparable damage," Robbins said. "It is better to take care of diabetes in the early stages and help educate patients to manage their care then it is to have them wind up coming to the emergency room in kidney failure. And then all of the added costs in trying to recover that when you could've had preventative care and that's what Obama Care, the Affordable Care Act, affords us."

The Health Care Mandate requires that people must have health care and if you don't you will face a tax penalty.

"I think there're a lot of wonderful things that Obama care has done," Robbins said. "I think people because of what's been going on, they don't even think the affordable care act is in existence yet."

Through the affordable care act, young adults will have the ability to purchase insurance through their parents up to the age of 26. Small businesses also get tax credits because the affordable care act in Illinois and 159,000 businesses have been eligible for that tax credit.

"I think probably the best part is the 80/20," Robbins said. "The Affordable Care Act demands that 80 cents of the dollar of insurance fees that are collected by those that pay for insurance has to go back into treating and taking care of the insured and 20 percent can go to marketing and profits."

The Affordable Care Act will be fully implemented by 2014.

The law was vigorously opposed by each of the major Republican presidential candidates during the 2012 primary season, including presumptive nominee Mitt Romney.

Romney said Thursday that although the Supreme Court ruled that President Barack Obama's health care law was constitutional, it was a "bad law" that raised taxes on the American people.

"As you might imagine, I disagree with the Supreme Court's decision," Romney said on a rooftop overlooking the US Capitol. "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."

"What the court did today was say that Obamacare does not violate the Constitution. What they did not do is say that Obamacare is good law or that it was good policy," he added.

Romney said that he would move to repeal Obamacare if elected, calling it "bad law" and "bad policy" that would raise taxes on the American people by over $500 billion and add trillions to the national debt.

"This is a time of choice for the American people," Romney said. "Our mission is clear: if we want to get rid of Obamacare, we're going to have to replace President Obama. My mission is to make sure we do exactly that."

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady of Bloomington said Thursday's ruling will "lead to the implosion of our health care system."

Republican State Sen. Bill Brady says the ruling will have "tragic consequences" and increase health care costs.

Republican U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert from suburban Chicago says she's disappointed the ruling "did not put a stop to the government overreach."

Democratic U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Chicago praised the ruling, saying it will be "life changing and tremendously helpful" for families, young adults and those who can't afford health care.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said she applauds the ruling.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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