In a dramatic 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has upheld key portions of the Affordable Care Act and has affirmed the constitutionality of the individual mandate.
The mandate -- which is the most important and controversial portion of the health care law -- will survive as a tax.
Writing the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts stated that "the federal government does not have the power to order people to buy insurance" but that government "does have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance."
In plain English -- the government cannot force you to purchase insurance, but it can tax you a penalty fee if you do not carry insurance.
Beginning in 2014, individuals must carry some form of insurance or pay a tax of $95. After 2016, the penalty rate will increase to $695 and will be tied to changes in the consumer price index.
While the court did uphold a large portion of the law, it did find fault with the planned Medicaid expansion program aimed at providing care to the poor. In another split decision, the justices decided that the federal government can offer new funds to states that choose to take part in the expansion, but cannot deny existing funds if states opt out of the program.
Though the decision makes President Obama's signature legislation law of the land, the future of health care reform still remains uncertain. Republicans have vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act if they take control over the White House and Congress after the November elections.
Baker, Sam. "Supreme Court Backs Healthcare Law in Vindication for Obama." TheHill.com
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Bravin, Jess, Brent Kendall, and Louise Radnofsky. "Supreme Court Upholds Mandate as Tax." WSJ.com
. Wall Street Journal, 28 June 2012. Web. 28 June 2012. <http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304898704577480371370927862.html?mod=WSJ_hps_LEFTTopStories>.
Howe, Amy. "The Mandate Is Constitutional: In Plain English." Court Holds That States Have Choice Whether to Join Medicaid Expansion : SCOTUSblog. SCOTUSblog.com
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