In National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebellius, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision, that the Affordable Care Act (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010) is indeed constitutional. "In 2010, Congress enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in order to increase the number of Americans covered by health insurance and decrease the cost of health care. One key provision is the individual mandate, which requires most Americans to maintain "minimum essential" health insurance coverage. 26 U. S. C. §5000A. For individuals who are not exempt, and who do not receive health insurance through an employer or government program, the means of satisfying the requirement is to purchase insurance from a private company.
Beginning in 2014, those who do not comply with the mandate must make a
"[s]hared responsibility payment" to the Federal Government. §5000A(b)(1). The
Act provides that this "penalty"will be paid to the Internal Revenue Service
with an individual’s taxes, and "shall be assessed and collected in the same
manner" as tax penalties. §§5000A(c), (g)(1).
Another key provision of the Act is the Medicaid expansion. The current Medicaid program offers federal funding to States to assist pregnant women, children, needy families, the blind, the elderly, and the disabled in obtaining medical care.
42 U. S.C. §1396d(a). The Affordable Care Act expands the scope of the Medicaid program and increases the number of individuals the States must cover.
For example, the Act requires state programs to provide Medicaid coverage by 2014 to adults with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, whereas many
States now cover adults with children only if their income is considerably lower,
and do not cover childless adults at all. §1396a(a)(10)(A)(i)(VIII).
The Act increases federal funding to cover the States’ costs in
expanding Medicaid coverage. §1396d(y)(1). But if a State does not comply with
the Act’s new coverage requirements, it may lose not only the federal funding
for those requirements, but all of its federal Medicaid funds. §1396c.
Twenty-six States, several individuals, and the National Federation of
Independent Business brought suit in Federal District Court, challenging the
constitutionality of the individual mandate and the Medicaid expansion. The
Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit upheld the Medicaid expansion as
a valid exercise of Congress’s spending power, but concluded that Congress
lacked authority to enact the individual mandate.
Finding the mandate severable from the Act’s other provisions, the Eleventh Circuit left the rest of the Act intact.
Held: The judgment is affirmed in part and reversed in part. " http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/11-393c3a2.pdf
Prior to the Court's ruling, conventional wisdom predicted that the individual mandates would be overturned. Expectations were such that some news agencies had to correct their statements that morning due misinterpreting the Court's ruling to mean that the individual mandates were unconstitutional since they frelied upon the Commerce Clause. News Agencies that reported the outcome properly, noted that the Court found that the Legislature's authority to require that most Americans maintain "minimum health insurance coverage" was derived from the power to tax and spend and not the commerce clause. Thus the individual mandate requirement in the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 is affirmed as the law of the land.
Supporters of the Affordable Care Act had been cautioned earlier that they might have to fight for the individual mandates and the legislation again. So it was with great relief and a sense of vindication that many supporters received Thursday morning's Supreme Court's ruling upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, Obamacare. If one wanted to experience the "Yes We Can" spirit of the Obama '08 campaign, anew; one need only look to the jubilation of Health Care Reform advocates and lawmakers as well as the dejected response from opponents of the Obama Administration's gathered together in Washington and other leadership centers throughout the nation. http://www.c-span.org/Events/Supreme-Court-Upholds-Health-Care-Law/10737431946-9/
Following the Supreme Court's ruling that the Affordable Care Act was constitutional and is indeed the law of the land, a number of health care reform interest groups and commentators issued statements on the significance of the ruling and the legislation. A few of these are reproduced below:
While these statements and analyses are beautifully argued and well presented, the best way to understand the Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act is to read the full text of the National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebellius: