The Supreme Court upheld Obamacare in a five to four vote, ruling that the individual mandate (requiring that Americans buy insurance or pay a fine) is constitutional as a tax. The court’s opinions were divided (outlined in-depth here)—they also stipulated that states can’t be penalized for not participating in Medicaid expansion—and what its specific rulings on the Affordable Care Act will mean for Americans is still being parsed out. Here’s the Court’s own explanation, “In Plain English” (via SCOTUSblog):
The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters.
Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn’t comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.
President Obama is expected to speak about the court’s decision within the next two hours; we’ll be updating with details throughout the afternoon.
Photo: Planned Parenthood