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Supreme Court Upholds Obama Affordable Health Care Reform Law

What do you think of the Obamacare decision?

The U.S. Supreme Court this morning revealed that a key part of President Obama's Affordable health care reform has been upheld.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act is the president's biggest achievement, signed in 2010, designed to ensure health care coverage and cut costs in the health care system.

The Supreme Court reviewed the constitutionality of the individual mandate, requiring nearly every American to buy health insurance. The legal question centers on whether such a regulation is allowed under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, which allows the federal government to regulate interstate activity.

The key Obama achievement was upheld in a 5-4 vote, with Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. siding to uphold the law and writing the decision. (The decision is attached to this story.)

The president is expected to speak about the decision in a few hours from the White House.

Pundits and politicians alike are already heralding the decision as a major political boon to Obama, whose supporters were concerned that an overturn of the law, or just the individual mandate, would harm the president's re-election bid this year.

New York Congresswoman Nita Lowey, D-Harrison, said she supports the decision in a statement released today.

"I am pleased the Supreme Court today upheld the Affordable Care Act, protecting access to health insurance and quality of coverage for millions of Americans," she said. "This decision protects the coverage of 17 million children with pre-existing conditions, 6.6 million young adults on their parents’ plans, and 86 million seniors and families receiving free preventive care. I will continue to work with my colleagues to improve the law and make health care more affordable for New Yorkers.”

Her Republican November opponent, Joe Carvin, said the decision is "deeply disappointing."

"...it serves to highlight two critical facts: Obamacare represents the largest tax increase in U.S. history, and it must be struck down legislatively by the Congress rather than through the courts," he said in a statement. "Obamacare is unaffordable to a nation on a perilous path toward effective bankruptcy. As a member of Congress, I will work to overturn this fundamentally flawed law." 

Obama's health care law, which also requires health insurers to provide cover to children of policy holders up to 26 years old and bans insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, was challenged by several states which argued that some of its conditions, particularly the individual mandate, was unconstitutional.

Republicans also had vehemently opposed the health care law and their presumptive presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, has vowed to seek its repeal if he's elected.

One of the key opinions of the decision today is the court found that the law is essentially a tax increase, which is allowed by the Constitution.

In Albany, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman had filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the Affordable Care Act.

“The Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act is an historic victory for the tens of millions more Americans who will be covered by health insurance," Schneiderman said. "The law's effects will be significant in our state, where over two million people are uninsured. Over a million uninsured New Yorkers will soon have access to affordable coverage. This law will continue to provide a spectrum of key consumer protections including keeping young adults on their parents' plans, ending pre-existing condition restrictions, and increasing consumer information about health care choices. My office stands ready to enforce the Affordable Care Act to ensure that all New Yorkers will benefit from the law's protections.”

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, applauded today's Supreme Court decision.

“I am pleased the Supreme Court reaffirmed the hard fought progress that was made to ensure that no one can be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition, being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing condition, young adults will be covered, prescription drug costs for seniors will be reduced, preventive care including life-saving mammograms will be accessible and that insurance companies can’t cancel their coverage when you get sick," Gillibrand said. "It is time to get beyond scoring political points and get back to finding common core values and passing legislation that will help grow our economy and get more people back to work.”

AARP is pleased that the Supreme Court found the critically important provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to be constitutional. This landmark legislation is already improving the health and financial security of our members and all Americans.

AARP today said it supported this law because it helps many Medicare recipients avoid financially burdensome increases in prescription drug costs by closing the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap, or "doughnut hole."

The ACA, the organization says, also expands the number of people eligible for free preventive and wellness benefits, and cracks down on Medicare fraud, waste and abuse. They also applaud its elements which, for those not yet eligible for Medicare, will be instrumental in eliminating discriminatory health insurance practices such as exclusions based on pre-existing conditions, and in limiting the use of age rating to charge exorbitant premiums for older Americans.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court found the majority of the Affordable Care Act constitutional," said AARP CEO A. Barry Rand. “We look forward to the continued implementation of this critically important legislation so that millions of Americans can continue to receive the benefits it provides. AARP will continue to be a source of information and support as Americans navigate the benefits of the law.”

U.S. Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), a supporter of the act, expressed his surprise at the decision in a release issued Thursday. 

"I am both pleased and a little surprised to see that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Affordable Care Act, flying in the face of conservative pressure, similar to their decision in the Arizona immigration case earlier this week," Engel said. "After their partisan decisions in Bush v. Gore and Citizens United, I was not alone in my skepticism that they could avoid politics on these issues.  I am very pleased to see they upheld this law, as I was always certain of its constitutionality."

Engel said the Affordable Care Act has been under attack since 2009 and hoped this would bring an end to the issue.

"The Affordable Care Act is now the law of the land," Engel said. "I am hopeful my Republican colleagues will now work with me to improve the law, instead of trying to tear it down.  The Court did the American people a huge favor today by standing with them and focusing on the law instead of the politics.  I am hopeful this will continue in the future and other upcoming landmark court decisions will not be predicated on politics.”

Blythe June 29, 2012 at 10:11 AM
I did not have a choice in what my income taxes were used for before. I'd rather they go to helping our nation be healthy than to wars. Think of all our taxes needed to take care of our returning vets. Our nation's health should not be a partisan issue. What's hurting this country most is blind partisanism. Think for yourself and don't be led like sheep ... both sides.
Dan Seidel June 29, 2012 at 10:28 AM
SCOTUS Justice Roberts made no sense - the decision is a joke! It sets precedent in that Congress can now regulate ANYTHING, give a monetary penalty and call it a tax. Constitutionally, this is a gross miscarriage of justice/law. There were 5 Justices ready to strike the law down under the Commerce Clause - Roberts failed the nation. Rumor: he's on meds? If so, and they meds clouded his judgment, he should be removed for incompetence. His taxing power analysis is unsupportable - exactly what type of tax is this? Roberts cannot say. ONLY Congress has the power to tax, NOT the Court, NOT the POTUS. NO ONE CALLED IT A TAX!!!! Now the Court MAKES NEW LAW. Ineptocracy - welcome to America.
Dan Seidel June 29, 2012 at 10:33 AM
But if insurance compaines were allowed to compete across state lines, the People might ACTUALLY benefit from LOWER rates and BETTER benes. You must be a Capitalist!! SHAME!!! FREE MARKET ECONOMIST!! With a policy like yours, there would not be a need for Obamacare - what would our politicians do for grandstanding? There is only one Fast and Furious or Obamacare to go around once a year! To the gulag with you!
Ray Adamick June 29, 2012 at 10:37 AM
One last thing, I'm 55, disabled with Cerebral Palsy, I have both Medicare & Medicaid, I'm fully covered! Are you Felicia??
Dan Seidel June 29, 2012 at 10:39 AM
Ohh, right : another thing: the AGI floor for deduction of medical/dental/Rx expenses is now 10%, not 7.5% anymore. THAT'S 10%!! Obama say: show me your money!! while he pads the pockets of his bundlers and failed fake green job corporations ( how many billions so far? how much $$$ into the hands of the CEO's of these "green" job corps?). and I know true green job companies/businesses and POTUS: you ain't no green job producer - never will be - no smarts or insight or experience. we are being had again. well, most of you at any rate.
dleighg June 29, 2012 at 01:07 PM
DebinRye: Source please?
dleighg June 29, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Felicia, you do know that the government doesn't run HMO plans don't you? They are private companies that YOUR employer chose for you. Like them or hate them, they have nothing to do with the government.
C Gajowski June 29, 2012 at 01:25 PM
The Affordable Health Care Act is a mish-mash, and to my mind it gives too much away to the insurers, but it is a start for handling the needs of the well and the sick, and brings the US into a more progressive stance. It also has the possibility for evening out healthcare across the nations, so that living, say, in Texas vs NY is akin to being in a foreign country if you lack medical insurance. I totally fail to see how this can hurt small businesses - now the whole burden will no longer be on the employer - and all of the folks who work at minimum wage jobs will have the opportunity to have insurance, at sliding scale/subsidized rates. Perhaps the poorest thing is that the costs are still determined by the for profit "health care industry" with no reductions on administrative costs. SIngle - or my alternative - regional payer - would greatly reduce expenses --- but that is not going to happen because of the immense influence ( money) on pols of insurers. Still, what an amazing decision - that for a reason no one anticipated, Roberts decided in favor of the country.
Jill McHugh June 29, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Obama is in business of not only vastly expanding government power over peoples’ lives, which is socialism, but he has achieved that by vastly expanding the power of the big insurance and the big pharma. This by any name, is fascism. In the name of "helping" the 99%, he made them all pay shitloads of money to the 1%. People who see it as the "Democrat victory" are truly stupid. While the country needs basic universal healthcare, Obamacare is pure Fascism. It is a cross-breed between Carl Marx and Adolf Hitler, and you, folks, are useful idiots.
Charles Hayes June 29, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Mike, thanks for the reply. Yes, any huge move or change is going to have problems and social security plus medicare needs ... to be seen as general solutiosn that require our creativity of the times... When left as fixed, solid solutions, we get into troubles. Its why both parties need to somehow find a third way ... to actually talk and debate and try to be creative... and even invent new solutions that are not based on the anger or irrationaltiy (as is exhibited by many today) which we cannot have guide the changes needed. I'm glad you are thinking... Argument -- not hysteria -- is good.
Charles Hayes June 29, 2012 at 03:15 PM
PS: I've come to think that money better spent could be spent by putting talented future docotors through med schools -- free -- in exchange for say, four or five years of service in centers where those who cannot meet higher (and higher!) insurance costs can get treated. They get a salary, expeirence, and then free to go after four or five years... This could be part of a solution and save $$, I would think. Unless you disagree?
Lynn Teger June 29, 2012 at 03:16 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LW8SaPyUT-A&feature=em-uploademail
alan gordon June 29, 2012 at 03:22 PM
President Obama has turned out to be exactly what people thought he would be: A great big nothing. I wasnt going to vote in November because the choice was a big nothing vs. a big nothing, but the Supreme Court has, unfortunately, made it necessary to vote for Romney and a Republican House and Senate to get rif of Obamacare. Otherwise, there may be a 'tax' on people who refuse to eat broccoli, who refuse to home school their children, who refuse to shave their beards, and on anyone who has an abortion.
C Gajowski June 29, 2012 at 03:36 PM
More of a reply to Felicia who asserts anyone can get medical care as needed. No, if you are not insured you will first have an enormous challenge to find providers - Drs and hospitals- who will treat you for chronic or ongoing illness - where you'll be alive without treatment in the next hour or day -such as canceror diabetes, altho' you will be treated for emergency reasons ( say, a car accident) at an ER. You will either incur massive bills, or - if you are eligible or indigent - tax moneys will be used to foot the bill.
C Gajowski June 29, 2012 at 03:38 PM
One cannot buy cigarettes with food snaps. What in the world does this have to to with the President, by the way?
C Gajowski June 29, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Just a tangent - saw someone who used to live in CT and who moved to live near a daughter in Switzerland, where her Medicare is useless. She had to buy medical insurance there - everyone has to purchase it, with some choices as to the extent of coverage and costs - but because EVERYONE has to purchase it her cost - as a 69 year old - was about 325 Swiss francs - about $340. In the US this would not even cover the cost of supplemental insurance. Friends who have had to purchase their own insurance have had to lay out $6-7000. Again - Because everyone is covered and it's controlled ( and their drug coasts are minuscule compared to ours) She is paying about half of what the is would cost in the US. And - another aside - Switzerland has one of the highest costs of living - and quality of life - in the world. Instead of ranting about ideologies as a basis for planning for healthcare, we - and our pols - ought to be analyzing and working toward a system that would best meet our needs. As a country - we suffer when a large number of our citizens have poor health. When trratments for many diseases run to the hundreds of thousands of dollars, few peopl can afford to pay out of pocket. Median household income in NYS as of the last census was under $56,000 - for a family of about 3 ( and < $52,000 for the US). 14% of the population live under poverty level. So how would the average family negotiate medical costs without government initiatives?
C Gajowski June 29, 2012 at 03:54 PM
That's $340/month.
NY Firefighter June 29, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Good link with good information. I only wish more people had as much information as they do opinions. Just like the people in front of Cosi's on Purchase St. a few months ago who were trying to get people to sign a petition against Fracking in New York. I had more information than they did on the process. But they just KNEW it was bad. They must have been relatives of Nancy Pelosi.
Barbara Cooper June 29, 2012 at 06:07 PM
What an amazing turn of events. Thank g-d for Justice Roberts. Next - single payer, but at least this will take us on the right road to affordable health care for all.
HardWorkingGuy June 29, 2012 at 06:47 PM
What happens to the people in this country who have no SSN? The people who are effectively invisible to the IRS, what plan are they forced to carry? Who do they pay a fine to if they decide not to comply with this new regulation?
Mary June 29, 2012 at 07:24 PM
That's right Jenga...Obamacare brings with it the largest tax hike in history.... Here's a list of the taxes nobody is talking about... http://www.newsmax.com/GroverNorquist/Obamacare-20-hidden-taxes/2012/06/29/id/443995
NY Firefighter June 29, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Switzerland has less that 8 million citizens. We have over 20 million illegals, plus over 300 million citizens. The Swiss get hammered with VAT @ 8% and federal tax rate @ 35%. Not to mention all the other added taxes. But they do attract many, many corporations who move their corporate headquarters there. Especially to Zug, which has the lowest corporate tax rate, about 15%. So, in reality, it's not low cost insurance, it's subsidized insurance. Per capita spending has increased 50% in the last 10 years. And that's with government control over so much of the lives of every Swiss citizen. How would that translate here?
JM June 29, 2012 at 09:54 PM
NY Firefighter, clearly you have not been with the average Swiss worker. True that CH has a controlled population. The income tax you quoted is not true for those earning just a liveable wage... for me in NY that is $50K which also happens to be the average household income in the U.S. I can live in CH on EUR 22K. (I also have an MBA and 20yr corp. experience so I'll take that lower salary for a higher-quality of life that includes free health care that the rest of this country labels ''socialism.'' But the Swiss don't want me, so I ain't moving.)
JM June 29, 2012 at 10:01 PM
C - that is not a tangent. Most of the EU has a much better quality of life than we could ever dream of here. Cannot be fired for no reason (hello, IBM in Westchesta) and health care is part of the overall equation. Yet, somehow those countries get on just fine with taxing those ''the more you earn the more you pay''; they don't go off invading nations at the cost of trillions of dollars or euros, they don't subsidize oil companies or banks... or hedge funds and then wonder why they have to keep printing money. I'd move in a NY-second if only they officially recognized a U.S.A. refugee.
DebinRye July 01, 2012 at 05:32 PM
dleighg! see: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1069509/Pregnant-women-denied-pain-relieving-epidurals-staff-shortages-NHS-hospital.html. I however, was relying on British friends who've had babies here and in the UK.
NY Firefighter July 01, 2012 at 05:42 PM
"Free"? So no one pays for it? As for "the average Swiss worker", no, my family and friends live in Northern Europe by the North Sea. But they are "average workers" and I hear about the tax rates and government control of daily life (from cradle to grave).
DebinRye July 02, 2012 at 11:08 AM
Another example of your glorious universal healthcare is what happened to Natasha Richardson, Liam Neeson's wife. Had she been skiing in the US when she had her accident, a routine ER CT scan would have revealed her hematoma. But, thanks to the wisdom of "free" healthcare for all," they don't do those costly CTs in Canadian ERs because they have to think of the greater good. But Obama has such a good heart, he wants us all to have equal access to a those scooters!
DebinRye July 02, 2012 at 11:19 AM
If Obama really wanted to do something about the people who have no health insurance, routinely show up at the ERs for treatment, and never pay the bill, he would enforce our immigration laws!
DebinRye July 02, 2012 at 11:34 AM
Amen!
C Gajowski July 02, 2012 at 02:22 PM
The obvious - are t you talking Federal Income tax? Then eliminate children and people over 65 - 70 from the 47%.- or do you expect income taxes from them. too? Next eliminate the ones who work at low wages and ONLY pay for OASDI [Social Security) and Medicare ( SOCIAL SECURITY) and a rate of 6.65% of their wages. Then consider who pays sales taxes on many essential items ( 7.75% in Westchester, I think). The number you use is totally ad intentionally misleading.

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