Health Reform (ACA) is Upheld by Supreme Court
Today, June 28, 20121, the Supreme Court issued opinions on health care reform. A divided Court upheld the constitutionality of the Obama administration’s health-care law. The court said that Congress was acting within its powers under the Constitution as it required most Americans to have health insurance or pay a tax. Chief Justice Roberts’ vote saved the ACA.
The bottom line is that the entire ACA is upheld, with the exception that the federal government’s power to terminate states’ Medicaid funds is narrowly read.
Please see below for an overview of each opinion with a link to the actual opinion.
- The individual mandate survives as a tax. The only effect of not complying with the mandate is that you pay the tax. The Court holds that the mandate violates the Commerce Clause, but it is irrelevant because there are five votes for the mandate to be constitutional under the taxing power. The Court held that the Anti-Injunction Act doesn’t apply because the label “tax” is not controlling.
- The Medicaid provision is limited, but not invalidated. A majority of the Court held that the Medicaid expansion is constitutional but that it would be unconstitutional for the federal government to withhold Medicaid funds for non-compliance with the expansion provisions. Another alternate way to think about Medicaid is: the Constitution requires that states have a choice whether to participate in the expansion of eligibility, and if they decide not to, they can continue to receive funds for the rest of the program.