The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the central provision of President Barack Obama's signature Affordable Care Act - the individual health insurance mandate - is constitutional, according to the Huffington Post.
The 5-4 majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, upheld the mandate as a tax, with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joining in the majority. The majority did rule, however, that the mandate was not valid as an exercise of Congress' commerce clause power.
The decision looks like a political compromise among the justices, letting the mandate stand without wading into the contentious question of whether the provision is a valid exercise of Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce. The majority concluded that the mandate, which requires virtually all Americans to obtain minimum health insurance coverage or pay a penalty, falls within Congress' power under the Constitution to "lay and collect taxes," Huffington Post reported.
Had the individual mandate been stripped from the law, many other provisions–such as covering people with pre-existing conditions and not capping insurance coverage–most likely would have been removed, as well.
The decision is a major victory for the Obama administration, which touted the law passed in March 2010 as its signature legislative achievement. But there are many Americans who decried the law because of concerns about the federal government's role in regulating the health care industry.
Rep. Lynn Woolsey, Sonoma and Marin's representative in Congress who is retiring this year, called on the U.S. Congress to seize on the ruling as a chance to expand on health care reform.
"Our struggle isn’t over," she said in a statement. "Republicans in Congress will still try to dismantle the Affordable Care Act piece by piece. They still don’t get it. They are still nostalgic for the old, broken health care system that left millions without coverage; bankrupted families and small businesses; and put the middle class at the mercy of the insurance industry."
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