The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, survived the Supreme Court today by the narrowest of margins. In fact, five justices out of nine found that Congress does not have the power to mandate health-insurance coverage under the Commerce Clause. However, four justices said it does have that power, and Chief Justice Roberts made it five in favor by declaring that Obamacare is a tax measure, not (strictly) an effort to regulate commerce, and is constitutional on that basis.
Here's a link to the decision and the various opinions if you care to dive in.
And the reactions are, uh, mixed. Here's two, one from the progressive N.C. Justice Center saluting the decision, and the second from The Heartland Institute, which denounces it in terms you might want to reserve for a military takeover of the government — if, that is, the takeover is announced.
From the N.C. Justice Center:
Supreme Court upheld one of the greatest expansions of health care security in U.S. history
RALEIGH (June 28, 2012) — Today the U.S. Supreme Court upheld one of the greatest expansions of health care security in the nation’s history. The Affordable Care Act, passed by our elected representatives after extensive debate, will extend health insurance to 32 million Americans. It is now important to redouble our efforts to educate seniors and young people and small businesses about the benefits of health reform.
We also must move forward with full implementation in North Carolina in a way that best protects the interests of consumers. North Carolina’s economy as a whole – including our state’s hospitals, doctors, small businesses, and local employers – will benefit greatly from a new influx of Medicaid funds from the federal government. By investing in the health of our population we will contain the long-term growth in health care costs.
This endorsement of health reform by our nation’s highest court shows that Congress operated well within its constitutional authority in requiring that Americans who can afford insurance purchase a policy. The worst practices of the insurance industry – denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions, charging women more than men for the same policy, dropping coverage when someone gets sick – will soon be relegated to the rubbish heap of history.
The time when everyone – young and old, rich and poor – will have access to decent health services is near. As a consumer advocacy organization that has worked for more than 20 years to expand quality, affordable health care to all North Carolinians, we are elated by this decision.
And from The Heartland Institute's Maureen Martin:
“Today’s decision will go down in infamy. It marks the moment when we all lost our freedom because the Supreme Court drew a road map to guide those dedicated to imposing a totalitarian, statist government on the American people.
“The majority opinion on the individual mandate, authored by Chief Justice Roberts, held that, so long as failure to comply with a government directive is penalized by something ‘reasonably’ called a tax, Congress can force Americans to buy anything. It can force Americans to do something, indeed anything, like eat broccoli. It can force Americans not to do something, like not be obese. Or even not sing the Star Spangled Banner. All of this would be lawful under this ruling today.
“There is no limit on the evil coming, unless we amend our Constitution. A dark day for America, indeed.”