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Supreme Court Upholds Controversial Healthcare Bill

Blogs, Health Care

In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In an opinion by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court upholds the entirety of the individual mandate provision of the act, a provision requiring Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty, and partially upholds the Medicaid expansion provision. See National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, No. 11-393 (June 28, 2012).

In the decision, the majority upholds the constitutionality of the individual mandate under Congress’s power to “lay and collect taxes” under the taxing clause of the Constitution. Portions of the Medicaid expansion provision, which gives funds to States on the condition that they give specified healthcare for all citizens falling below a certain income level, were upheld under the Spending Clause of the Constitution. However, the Court struck down the part of the provision which penalized States by taking away their existing Medicaid funding, if they choose not to participate in the program. The Court ultimately upholds the Medicaid Expansion under the caveat that Congress cannot threaten non-complying States with a loss of their existing Medicaid funding. In upholding these two provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the Court also upholds other provisions of the act including provisions stating:

  • Children 26 years old and younger can remain on their Parent’s health insurance plans
  • Insurers cannot deny individuals with pre-existing conditions from coverage
  • Insurers cannot deny coverage for mistakes made in an application for health insurance

A strong dissent joined by Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito argue the entirety of the law is unconstitutional and the Court vastly overreached in its statutory interpretation, creating a health-care law Congress did not intend.