At 10:07 am EDT, the US Supreme Court released its opinion on the Affordable Care Act. Over 800,000 people viewed the live blog from the SOCTUSblog. The journalists who heard the decision read call it complicated, but briefly, The Affordable Care Act, including
its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters.
Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they did not comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.
Read the opinion in the health care cases at http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/11-393c3a2.pdf
Many predicted or hoped the Affordable Care Act would be ruled unconstitutional. Many are surprised that Chief Justice Roberts sided with the liberal side of the court. The Chief Justice Chief Justice read the decision, which probably means he wrote the decision.
What happens now? No one is sure. With the reported number of Americans without health insurance at nearly 50 million, it will continue to be a hot political issue. Speaker of the House John Boehner said yesterday that if the court does not strike down the entire law, the House would move to repeal what is left of it.