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Supreme Court upholds individual mandate

5-4 decision affirms constitutionality of Affordable Care Act

Supreme Court decision on health reformThis morning, Supreme Court – by a margin of 5-4 – has upheld the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) nearly in its entirety, although they did rule that the federal government cannot withhold Medicaid funding from states that don’t expand Medicaid under the ACA, essentially making Medicaid expansion optional for the states.

Chief Justice John Roberts was the surprising swing vote in the decision to uphold the ACA’s individual mandate, siding with the Court’s four liberal justices – Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Stephen Breyer – and agreeing that individual mandate was justified as a tax.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in a dissent that “In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety.”

The individual mandate, requiring most Americans to maintain coverage or face a penalty from the IRS, will take effect in 2014.

The full text of the decision is here.

We celebrate this decision was a huge win for millions of Americans who have so much at stake. We’ve said it again and again … that the law’s reforms are a huge victory for women, for Baby Boomers, and especially for so many families who have faced denial of coverage because of pre-existing conditions. At the same time, we sincerely expect this will be a win for all of us who hope reforms will actually reduce costs in the long run.

We commend the Court, but we also encourage the law’s supporters to use this opportunity to remind Americans that this truly was a win for all of us.