Today the SCOTUS ruled that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional.
Chief Justice John Roberts joined with the liberal wing of the court to uphold the law.
In Plain English: 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 didn’t comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.
In what seems like a universal surprise a majority of the Court has accepted the Administration’s backup argument that, as Roberts put it, “the mandate can be regarded as establishing a condition — not owning health insurance — that triggers a tax — the required payment to IRS.” Actually, this was the Administration’s second backup argument: first argument was Commerce Clause, second was Necessary and Proper Clause, and third was as a tax. The third argument won.
The Solicitor General’s defense of ACA, it might be worth noting that the tax defense of the mandate was, indeed, an argument that the government lawyer did advance.
The opinions collectively are a monster. The Chief’s opinion is 59 pages, Justice Ginsburg’s opinion is 61 pages, the four dissenters are 65 pages, followed by a short two-pager from Justice Thomas. So, the total impact of the opinion is still not clear.
Here are comments from Alabama so far.
Governor Bentley Responds to U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on Obamacare
MONTGOMERY – Governor Robert Bentley on Thursday issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act.
“I am deeply disappointed by today’s Supreme Court decision. The health care law is an overreach by the federal government that creates more regulation, bureaucracy, and a dramatic increase in costs to taxpayers. The ACA is the single worst piece of legislation to come out of Congress. This law must be repealed.
People need more choices, not fewer choices. Bigger government is not the answer. Market-based solutions are the best solutions to giving the public the most affordable options.”
Lt. Governor Ivey Responds to Supreme Court
Decision on Obama Care
MONTGOMERY, Alabama (June 28, 2012) – The Supreme Court’s ruling today, upholding major portions of Obamacare, perpetuates the illusion that taxpayers can and should provide healthcare for every citizen, in spite of the fact that the country is broke! If our elected leadership in Washington does not overturn this law, it will bring America down. Like the former great powers of Europe and other nations in human history, America will spend and tax itself into weakness and, God forbid, collapse. The President’s trillion dollar takeover of the American healthcare system is wrong for the federal budget, is in opposition of our constitutional principles and wrong for Alabama. I support efforts to improve our healthcare system by restoring state flexibility, promoting free markets and competition while empowering consumer choice. Even though the individual mandate was upheld, the Court struck down the mandate requiring states to expand Medicaid coverage, which will not require Alabama to spend hundreds of millions of dollars beginning in 2019.
This continues to be a state and national emergency with major tax implications. Citizens, we must be vigilant, active and passionate about our deep concern over this unfunded, non-sustainable mandate from those in Washington who would tax us into oblivion. We must begin the process to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Aderholt Statement on Supreme Court’s Decision on the President’s Health Care Law High Court Upholds the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Washington, D.C. — Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04), today released the following statement regarding the Supreme Court of the United States issued its decision regarding the President’s health care law.
“Most Americans agree that the President’s health care law is taking America down the wrong path and government mandated health care is not what they want. Health care decisions that are made at the federal level only make it more difficult for small businesses and families to afford quality coverage. Putting health care decisions in the hands of unelected Washington bureaucrats and using taxpayer dollars to provide for abortions is simply bad policy. My concern is the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the majority of the President’s health care law is a devastating step toward socialized medicine for our nation.”
“House Republicans will continue to work to repeal the President’s flawed health care law, so that we enact common-sense, step-by-step reforms that protect Americans access to the care they need, from the doctors they choose, at a lower cost. I think you will see House Republicans act quickly once again to fully repeal the law and implement patient-centered reforms that ensure families and doctors make health care decisions.”
Aderholt currently serves as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Homeland Security for the powerful House Appropriations Committee, is a member of the Committee’s Commerce, Justice and Science; and Agriculture Subcommittees, and also serves on the Helsinki Commission. For more information about Aderholt’s work in Congress visit www.aderholt.house.gov.
NFIB/ALABAMA Statement on Supreme Court’s ‘Obamacare’ Ruling
MONTGOMERY, June 28, 2012 — Rosemary Elebash, state director of NFIB/Alabama, made the following statement today in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of President Obama’s health-care law. NFIB joined Alabama and 25 other states in challenging the law:
“While we’re certainly disappointed, NFIB respects the decision to uphold the individual mandate by the Supreme Court. Clearly, this mandate has now become a tax on all Americans and a broken campaign promise from President Obama not to raise taxes.
“NFIB is concerned about the precedent this will set in Congress’ ability to mandate other aspects of our lives, but we’ll move forward from today to continue to fight, harder than ever, for real health-care reform for our membership.
“Under the health-care law, small-business owners are going to face an onslaught of taxes and mandates, resulting in job loss and closed businesses. NFIB will continue to fight for the repeal of health-care in the halls of Congress. Only with a full repeal of the law will Congress have the ability to go back to the drawing board to craft real reform that makes reducing costs a number one priority.
“The power and control of health-care decisions should be in the hands of the consumer, not the government.”
Armistead Reacts to Supreme Court Decision on Obamacare
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Bill Armistead, Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, released the following statement regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare:
“Today’s decision by the United States Supreme Court has essentially created the largest tax increase in American history. There is no need to refer to it as Obamacare from this point forward. It is now the Obama Health Care Tax. This tax will continue to make it harder for small businesses to hire more workers, during a time when Alabamians desperately need jobs. Without a change in leadership, Americans will continue to suffer under an over-reaching, out-of-touch federal government. Polls have consistently shown that this piece of legislation, that was jammed down our throats by Obama and Congressional Democrats, is wildly unpopular and should be repealed.
“We need a President in the White House who understands that market-based solutions that offer patients more choice, not less, is the answer to rising health care costs. Governor Romney has made it clear that the primary objective on his first day as President will be to fully repeal this tax and start over. The stakes have never been higher for a general election. It is now up to the American people to ensure the repeal of this tax by electing Mitt Romney as our next President on November 6th.”