Government Relations Alert: In a 5-4 Decision, United States Supreme Court Upholds Obama's Health Care Overhaul.


[authors: Paul Cassidy and Andrew Chelseth]

This morning the United States Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as "Obamacare." The ruling means that the ACA, including the individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional.

Five Justices (Chief Justice Roberts along with Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan and Sotomayer) agreed that the penalty someone must pay if they refuse to buy insurance is a tax that Congress can legally impose using its taxing power. Many had predicted that the individual mandate would be struck down as interpreted under the Commerce Clause.

Since the individual mandate survived judicial examination, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, with one exception related to the expansion of the Medicaid program. The interpretation of a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid was narrowed—the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn't comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.

For Minnesota, this ruling indicates that the creation of a state health care exchange will continue to move forward and that regulation surrounding the Medicaid program may face some additional political scrutiny in the 2013 legislative session.

Go here to find the Supreme Court's complete opinion, including dissents.


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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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