Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act !

by on June 28, 2012 · 8 comments

in Civil Rights

From San Diego Free Press

In a stunning turn of events, the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, the signature legislative accomplishment of the Obama Administration.

In a 5-4 decision (more on that in a minute), the Court upheld the contentious individual mandate, determining that it was indeed constitutional under the commerce clause, justifying the requirement to purchase health insurance as a tax and therefore within the purview of Congress to enact.

Perhaps the most stunning development, however, was how the 5-4 decision came about. It was largely assumed that if the law were to be struck down, it would be along strict party lines with Justice Anthony Kennedy voting with the conservative members of the court. It was also widely thought that if the law were upheld–as it has been–that it would likely be a 6-3 vote with Chief Justice John Roberts joining Kennedy and the liberal members of the court to justify the law.

Instead, Kennedy voted with the conservatives, and Roberts–appointed by George W. Bush and himself a stalwart conservative–sided with the liberal wing of Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer. Kennedy, who Time magazine called the most powerful person on the court as the lone moderate who usually holds the deciding vote in those 5-4 split decisions.

A 5-4 split on the Supreme Court always viewed as politically tenuous. But in this case, with Justice Roberts joining the majority and writing the majority opinion, it lends an additional measure of credibility to the ruling that would have faced extra scrutiny and consternation had it been the usual, expected 5-4 split.

The court did decide, however, that a provision in the Affordable Care Act that required states to implement the law in its entirety or risk losing Medicaid funding was unconstitutional. The Court determined that the federal government could not withhold funds available to all other states and hold them hostage for further implementation. The Court also in effect bolstered states’ abilities to “opt out” of the Affordable Care Act without penalty.

The Affordable Care Act will now continue on to be implemented as planned, with all of the most popular provisions intact. The most controversial aspect of the law is the individual mandate, which was viewed as the lynchpin that would make the Act work. By requiring everyone to purchase health insurance, and by providing subsidies to those who needed help in doing so, it would increase the risk pool for the insurance companies, allowing costs to come down and making it more palatable for the insurance companies to cover the sickest Americans that they were no longer allowed to deny coverage to: The Act prohibits the denial of coverage by insurance companies on the basis of pre-existing conditions.

The law also calls for the formation of government organized insurance exchanges, a sort of one stop shop for individuals to visit to get their pick of the different insurance plans offered by the various insurance companies.

This is a developing story. Please check back later for updates.  Go to San Diego Free Press

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Gary Ghirardi June 28, 2012 at 8:53 am

Viewing this as a victory for liberal bias within a decision of the supreme court while a covert war is being fomented by the Obama administration in Syria is at best a concession to the people and at worse a side show to distract, which it seems it is effecting. The idea that Obamacare is anything more than mandated healthcare instituted within the private healthcare system of the United States, globally viewed as the most corrupt, is a hollow victory for citizens who are complacently and systematically forfeiting their freedom from unconstitutional intrusions in the hands of corporately controlled legislative, executive and judicial governmental bodies.

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avatar OB Joe June 28, 2012 at 10:25 am

Gary – You are off base on at least two points. Most progressives realize the limitations of this act – and also understand it’s the best we can get at this moment in history. It’s already passed, Gary, as you knnow, and the right has been howling ever since. To not get the significance here – I have to say ah, which planet are you on?

The Syrian situation is really screwed up. A genuine civil war is going on. Sounds like you’re one of those lefties who think the enemy of my enemy is my friend. So since Assad is a friend of certain countries, those attacking him at home must be “terrorists” formented by Obama. Again, man, get your perception aligned.

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avatar Gary Ghirardi June 28, 2012 at 11:29 am

Your right Joe. There is no relationship between the C.I.A., the U.S. Government, and Obama. What was the New York Times thinking in making a reference to the U.S. government providing “assistance” to the Syrian rebels?

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avatar Gary Ghirardi June 28, 2012 at 12:04 pm

What are the limits of compromise for “progressives” within the political opportunities available at a point in time? It seems that pragmatism cannot protect civil liberties, which in your subtext seem to have been ceded to the concerns of the reactionary right. I am now going to be looking at an escalating fine if I do not buy health insurance? These are new rules for negotiating civil society that will increase the marginalization of the “others” inside our U.S. society and by adjusting ourselves to these new cultural expectations internally, justify the rationalizations for interventions in other societies, (namely all), where our systems of government have interests at stake. Where do you draw the line? This is the death to human governance by degrees of compromise.

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avatar Bearded OBcean June 28, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Well the good news is that we don’t have to worry about the Supreme Court being hijacked by a radical wing as would have been the case if the conservative jurists all voted in lockstep. Of course, no one expected the liberal wing of the Court would vote in any other manner than it did. So they have that going for them. Funny how that works out. Can’t recall too many conservatives noting the end of the Supreme Court’s impartiality if the law were upheld. Seems a few on the other side can breathe a sigh of relief, huh?

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avatar hoodie June 28, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Can anyone translate this to what it means for the average (or below) working guy without coverage through their employer?
What are the projected annual costs for a single adult? $95 or 1% of your income? I’m not clear if that uninsured penalty amount is what you are paying to receive coverage or simply a penalty.

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avatar Andy Cohen June 30, 2012 at 11:59 pm

The penalty for not buying health insurance depends on your income level and ability to pay. It is levied through the IRS, but is designed to not be enforceable. Kind of weird like that.

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avatar Gary Ghirardi July 1, 2012 at 10:04 am

None of what you have explained should put people at ease with this compromised health care legislation.

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