The US Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the US President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform plan which “mandates” all American citizens to obtain health insurance or face hundreds of dollars in penalty fine.
With a 5-4 decision, the Court’s justices announced on Thursday that even though the “individual mandate” was not valid under the US Constitution’s Commerce Clause, it was legal under the US government’s tax powers.
“The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax,” said Chief Justice John Roberts.
“Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness,” he added.
The Court, however, found problems with the law’s expansion of a health care program for the poor, known as Medicaid.
“States must either accept a basic change in the nature of Medicaid, or risk losing all Medicaid funding. The remedy for that constitutional violation is to preclude the federal government from imposing such a sanction. That remedy does not require striking down other portions of the Affordable Care Act,” Roberts explained.
The Court’s ruling is considered a major victory for Obama before the presidential elections in November as the law is intended to spread health insurance coverage to more than 30 million un-insured Americans.
However, the mandate has been severely opposed by 28 Republican-controlled states, as they believe the Obama administration has no right to force people into insurance programs.
The reforms, officially known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, were introduced on March 23, 2010, Obama’s first year in the White House.
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