Jun 29 2012

Two Perspectives on the Supreme Court Decision on the Affordable Care Act

Feature Stories | Published 29 Jun 2012, 10:12 am | Comments Off on Two Perspectives on the Supreme Court Decision on the Affordable Care Act -

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In a momentous decision taken by the United States Supreme Court, 5 out of 9 justices voted to uphold President Obama’s signature health care law, the Affordable Care Act. Activists on both sides of the political spectrum have waited for months for the decision which, coming in an election year, has potential ramifications in November. In initial assessments, the press, including CNN and NPR, erroneously announced that the individual mandate aspect of the ACA was found to be unconstitutional. However, closer reading of the decision found that the nation’s highest court has indeed upheld all aspects of the law. Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, who was the swing vote in joining the liberal justices, writing for the majority opinion, said, “The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax… Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.”

Another provision of the ACA that requires states to expand their Medicaid rolls for poor Americans, was also essentially upheld. While the court asserted that Congress overstepped its constitutional authority in that provision, it said the federal government cannot withhold existing Medicaid funds to states who fail to expand the program.

Also upheld yesterday was the Affordable Care Act’s banning of the practice among many private insurance companies of charging women more for insurance than men, simply because they are women.

President Obama, in responding to the decision, said “today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country, whose life will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme court’s decision to uphold it.” The presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney commented, “[t]his is a time of choice for the American people. If we’re going get rid of ‘Obamacare’ we’re going to have to replace President Obama. My mission is to make sure we do exactly that.”

GUESTS: Richard Kirsch, author of Fighting for Our Health: The Epic Battle to Make Health Care a Right in the United States, national campaign manager of the Health Care for America Now coalition; Russell Mokhiber, founder of Single Payer Action and editor of the Corporate Crime Reporter – Mokhiber and 50 doctors filed a brief with the Supreme Court asking them “to strike down the individual mandate that forces people to buy lousy private health insurance. We reject Obamacare and Romneycare.”

On July 10th Richard Kirsch will be at the California Endowment at 1000 N Alameda from 4-6 pm discussing his new book. You can find out more at www.fightingforourhelath.com

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