June 28, 2012

Breaking News: Supreme Court Upholds Obama Health Care Law

Key provisions of the individual mandate were upheld with some restrictions on Medicaid changes.

In a dramatic conclusion to the year's most divisive legal debate,SCOTUSBlog says the U.S. Supreme Court has just ruled that the so-called individual mandate in the 2010 Affordable Care Act is constitutional — a decision that it's believed means the entire law passed by President Obama survives.

On Morning Edition, NPR's Ari Shapiro just explained that the individual mandate was upheld as a tax.

The Obama administration had argued that mandating that everyone in the country have insurance was constitutional under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. That was the administration's "A argument," as Ari explained. The "B" argument was that the individual mandate was constitutional under the federal government's ability to tax. During debate in Congress and in the law itself, the mandate is called a "penalty." It was up to the Supreme Court to decide whether the penalty was indeed a tax.

It appears, Ari said, that the "tax argument is what saved President Obama's signature law."

According to SCOTUSBlog's Tom Goldstein, it was Chief Justice John Roberts who was the deciding vote on the key issue of whether the so-called individual mandate would survive. The vote was 5-4, says Goldstein, and Justice Anthony Kennedy sided with the "conservatives" while Roberts shifted to the "liberal" side.

Source: NPR News