Friday, June 29, 2012

Roberts swing vote upholds constitutionality of Obama health care law

A surprise swing vote from Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. resulted in a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision to uphold the 2010 Affordable Health Care Act signed by U.S. President Barack Obama. Roberts, an appointee of former U.S. President George W. Bush, sided with the court’s four “liberal” justices: Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.

Roberts wrote the majority opinion. He said that the individual mandate that requires all Americans to either purchase health insurance or face a monetary penalty is constitutional based upon Congress’ power to levy taxes in Article I, Section 8.

"Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness," Roberts said.

The Democratic Congress that passed the health care act based the individual mandate requirement upon individual mandate proposals supported in the past by GOP leaders such as 1996 Republican Presidential Nominee Bob Dole and presumptive 2012 Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney.

“Today, the Supreme Court also upheld the principle that people who can afford health insurance should take the responsibility to buy health insurance,” Obama said.

According to the White House, the act ensures that:
  • Insurance companies no longer have unchecked power to cancel policies, deny individuals coverage, or charge women more than men.
  • Soon, no American will ever again be denied care or charged more due to a pre-existing condition, like cancer or even asthma.
  • Preventive care will still be covered free of charge by insurance companies--including mammograms for women and wellness visits for seniors.
  • By August, millions of Americans will receive a rebate because their insurance company spent too much of their premium on administrative costs or CEO bonuses.
  • 5.3 million seniors will continue to save $600 a year on their prescription drugs.
  • Efforts to strengthen and protect Medicare by cracking down on waste, fraud, and abuse will remain in place.
  • 6.6 million young adults will still be able to stay on their family's plan until they're 26.
A major impact of the court's decision is the 129 million people with pre-existing conditions and millions of middle class families who will have the security of affordable health coverage.

“I’m as confident as ever that when we look back five years from now, or 10 years from now, or 20 years from now, we’ll be better off because we had the courage to pass this law and keep moving forward,” Obama said.

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