The highest court in the land announced earlier today that it would uphold most of the healthcare overhaul pushed by President Barack Obama and approved by the U.S. Congress in 2010.
Nearly all of the “Obamacare” law will be allowed to stand thanks to a Supreme Court ruling that went 5-4 in favor of the bill, with Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative, casting the deciding vote, according to a report from the New York Times. Essentially, the law’s aim is to extend healthcare coverage to poorer Americans who may not be able to afford insurance through what is known as an individual mandate. This requires that nearly all people have insurance of some kind, but requires states to expand Medicaid coverage to those who cannot afford it.
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“Today’s Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allows health reform to move forward. Such reform is long overdue for the millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans struggling to find affordable insurance coverage and needed healthcare. The ACA will improve access to care and reduce the risk that people will face financial ruin due to illness,” Mark Rukavina, Principal at Community Health Advisors, said to Credit.com. “But the ACA not only expands coverage, it also extends protections on the collection and reporting of outstanding medical bills. These little known provisions help millions of Americans who will no longer have their credit ruined due to medical bills.”
It’s expected that tens of millions of people nationwide will receive healthcare coverage for the first time as a result of the law, and brings the U.S. closer to universal coverage. Individuals will have to have their own health insurance, either privately or through the government, by 2014, and will face fines for not being compliant by that date.
In particular, it should be noted that the law was upheld not as a commerce mandate, which opponents argued it was, but rather a form of tax, the report said.
However, the law currently has more opponents among Americans than backers, according to a poll from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. In all, just 43 percent approve of Obamacare, and 48 percent disapprove. The remaining 9 percent say they were undecided.
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However, 48 percent also said they would be unhappy if the Supreme Court had thrown out the law entirely, and 51 percent would have felt the same way if the individual mandate were axed, the report said. Dichotomously, only 39 percent noted they would be happy if the law was upheld as-is. Perhaps not surprisingly, 75 percent of those who identify as Republican would have been happy if the law was tossed, compared with 50 percent of independents and just 16 percent of Democrats.