Thursday, June 28, 2012

Supreme Court Lets Health Law Largely Stand


HEALTH LAW STANDS

Roberts Part of Majority Upholding Mandate

“The Supreme Court on Thursday left standing the basic provisions of the health care overhaul, ruling that the government may use its taxation powers to push people to buy health insurance.

The narrowly delineated decision was a victory for President Obama and Congressional Democrats, with a 5-to-4 majority, including the conservative chief justice, John G. Roberts Jr., affirming the central legislative pillar of Mr. Obama’s presidency. The ruling upheld the so-called individual mandate, requiring that nearly all Americans obtain health insurance, by saying it fell under Congress’s power to tax.

Chief Justice Roberts, the author of the majority opinion, surprised observers by joining the court’s four more liberal members in the key finding and becoming the swing vote. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, frequently the swing vote, joined three more conservative members in a dissent and read a statement in court that the minority viewed the law as “invalid in its entirety.”

The court’s ruling is a crucial milestone for the law, allowing almost all of its far-reaching changes to roll forward. Several of its notable provisions have already taken hold in the past two years, and more are imminent. Ultimately, it is intended to end the United States’ status as the only rich country with large numbers of uninsured people, by expanding both the private market and Medicaid.

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