Affordable Care Act Found Constitutional by Supreme Court
This morning, the Supreme Court ruled the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), popularly known as “Obamacare,” to be constitutionally valid. The decision was a 5-to-4 majority, including the chief justice, John G. Roberts Jr., and affirmed all central tenets of the controversial bill, most notably the individual mandate and the expansion of the Medicaid program.
The ruling upheld the so-called individual mandate, requiring that nearly all Americans obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, deciding it was allowed under Congress’s power to tax citizens. Beginning in 2014, those who do not comply with the mandate by purchasing insurance must make a “shared responsibility payment” to the Federal Government.
The Court also upheld a major expansion of the Medicaid program intended to add millions of low-income citizens to its rolls. States may agree to expand Medicaid coverage in exchange for those new funds, and if a state accepts the expansion funds, it must abide by new rules and expand coverage. However, the Court limited the power of the Federal Government to enforce this provision by penalizing states that decline to participate. States may refuse to participate in the expansion without losing all of their Medicaid funding. Instead, the state will have the option of continuing its current Medicaid plan with no demonstrable change.