In a surprising ruling the Supreme Court today announced that the Americans With Care Act (ACA) is, in fact, constitutional according to the broad tax authority granted Congress by the Constitution.
Opponents of ACA were also dealt a stunning defeat in their argument that so-called “Obamacare” is unconstitutional because it permits the federal government to overreach its legitimate constitutional authority to regulate interstate business according to the Commerce Clause. The majority ruled that the ACA’s individual mandate is not an interstate commerce issue. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority in a stunning reversal of the swing vote normally reserved for Justice Anthony Kennedy, claimed the law allowed a choice to uninsured but penalized them with a tax if they chose not to get health insurance. That was the Obama administration’s back up argument, and the Supreme Court agreed.
The fact that Roberts sided with the majority and wrote the opinion underscores just how important this ruling is for non-partisan legitimacy of the new health care law. Although critics have scorned the law as “socialism” and derided it based on false assumptions and ignorance about the law’s many benefits, the ruling today represents a major victory for progress in developing a health care system that is both fair and just.
Some benefits of the Affordable Care Act:
- Children will be able to stay on their parents health plans until age 26, an important benefit in an economy with high unemployment and shrinking benefits.
- Insurers will no longer be able to discriminate against persons with prior medical conditions.
- States must set up insurance exchanges so that market competition among firms will deliver low cost insurance to the uninsured.
- Individuals who can afford insurance but lack it will be penalized by a “free-rider” tax, ensuring that their uninsured medical costs are not passed along to those persons with insurance in the form of higher premiums, more costly health care delivery, and higher taxes for public emergency rooms.