June 28, 2012
Bold New Leadership is Needed for Meaningful Healthcare Reform in the Wake of today's Supreme Court Decision
Today's ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act leaves the individual mandate intact but prevents the United States Government from withdrawing all federal Medicaid funding from states that do not agree to expansion of their Medicaid Program. Medicaid, created in 1965, is a healthcare program for the poor that is funded by a combination of the federal and state governments.
The individual mandate requires nonexempt individuals who are not covered under an employer or government sponsored health insurance policy to purchase an insurance policy meeting certain minimum standards from a private insurance company. Failure to do so will result in a federal tax penalty to the individual.
Chief Justice Roberts concluded that the individual mandate is not a valid exercise of congressional power with respect to the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause. However, he concluded that the requirement to purchase health insurance is effectively a form of taxation, and the Congress does have explicit constitutional power to "lay and collect Taxes (Art. I, §8, cl. 1)." Therefore, the mandate was upheld by the court.