News / USA

US Supreme Court OKs Obama's Health Care Plan

Supporters of the Affordable Healthcare Act gather in front of the Supreme Court before the court's announcement of the legality of the law in Washington, June 28, 2012.
Supporters of the Affordable Healthcare Act gather in front of the Supreme Court before the court's announcement of the legality of the law in Washington, June 28, 2012.
VOA News
The U.S. Supreme Court handed President Barack Obama a major victory Thursday, upholding the key part of his controversial health care plan in a 5-4 decision.

The so-called "individual mandate" requires Americans to have health insurance or face a financial penalty.  U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court's more liberal justices, writing in his majority opinion that "because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not [the court's] role to forbid it, or to pass [decide] upon its wisdom or fairness.''

Facts About The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as “Obamacare”

  • Individual mandate requiring all U.S. citizens to have health insurance either through private companies, their employers, or state-sponsored exchanges. Failure to do so will result in a fine.
  • Insurance companies banned from denying coverage to applicants with pre-existing health conditions.
  • Insurance companies required to include preventative health care at no extra cost, banned from setting limits on payouts for coverage.
  • Companies employing over 50 people required to provide those employees with health insurance.
  • Children allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until 26 years of age. 
Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor voted with Roberts to uphold the law.

President Barack Obama hailed the ruling as a victory "for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court's decision to uphold it."  He also said the court decision reaffirmed that in the United States, the wealthiest nation on Earth, no illness or accident should lead any family to financial ruin.

"Whatever the politics, today's decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court's decision to uphold it," said President Obama.

Mr. Obama's expected challenger in the 2012 election, Republican Mitt Romney, promised to repeal the law on his first day in office, if elected.  He said "Obamacare was bad policy yesterday.  It's bad policy today," and warned the law will cause up to 20 million Americans to lose health care coverage they like or want to keep while also killing badly needed jobs.

"What the court did today was say that Obamacare did not violate the Constitution," said Romney. "What they did not do is say that Obamacare was good law or that it's good policy.  Obamacare was bad policy yesterday.  It's bad policy today."

Related video report by Suzanne Presto

The Obama administration had argued the "individual mandate" is valid under the U.S. Constitution because all Americans will need medical care at some point in their lives, and there is no practical alternative to insurance.

Twenty-six states filed suit against the reform law, contending that individuals cannot be forced to buy insurance, a product they may neither want nor need.
 
Republican lawmakers were quick to respond to the court decision, using it to launch a renewed effort to repeal the law in its entirety.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, told reporters the court's ruling underscored the urgency to act.

He said, "There's a lot of resolve amongst our colleagues and amongst the American people to stop a law that's hurting our economy, driving up the cost of health care and making it more difficult for employers to hire new workers."  

U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell also lashed out at the law, saying it "made the problems it was meant to solve even worse - the supposed cure has proven to be worse than the disease."

The U.S. business community is also speaking out.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue said his pro-business group still feels the health care law is fundamentally flawed.  If left unchanged, he said, "it will cost many Americans their employer-based health insurance, undermine job creation, and raise health care costs for all."

Still, the president's supporters applauded the ruling, hoping it will help lead to Democratic victories in the upcoming election.

The top Democrat in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, called the court ruling a victory for the American people because it "ensured health care would be a right for all, not a privilege for the few."

Thursday's decision drew a large and energetic crowd to the steps of the Supreme Court, with students, parents, priests and even some belly dancers anxiously awaiting the decision.  But the ruling - a complex look at the constitutionality of the Obama health care law - sparked confusion.  Many in the crowd - and some in the news media - were at first not clear about what the decision meant.

The law passed in early 2010 is the signature piece of President Obama's legislative agenda during his time in office.  It is intended to address rising health care costs and the financial problems many Americans have faced in trying to obtain health insurance.

  • Demonstrators celebrate outside the Supreme Court after the court's ruling on health care, June 28, 2012.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama makes a statement in the East Room of the White House in Washington about the Supreme Court's decision on his Administration's health care law.
  • Claire McAndrew and Donny Kirsch, both of Washington, celebrate after the court's ruling.
  • Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks about the Supreme Court's health care ruling in Washington. "As you might imagine, I disagree with the Supreme Court's decision and I agree with the dissent," he said.
  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi relays the breaking news to her staff on Capitol Hill in Washington.
  • Supporters of the Affordable Healthcare Act celebrate in front of the Supreme Court after the court upheld the legality of the law.
  • Supporters gathered in front of the Supreme Court before the court's announcement.
  • Tea Party supporter William Temple protests against President Barack Obama's 2010 health care overhaul outside the Supreme Court.
  • Protesters' shadows are cast outside the Supreme Court.

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by: Adrian from: Florida
July 04, 2012 10:16 PM
President Obama did not tell the American people the WHOLE truth about his health care plan . Americans want health care that is affordable. Many families like mine with one income struggle to pay bills, the rent and bring food to the table, and do not need a health care mandate with a TAX . Come November , My entire family of registered voters has two Donald Trump words for Mr Obama , YOU'RE FIRED !!!!!!!!!!!!!

by: NVO from: USA
July 02, 2012 12:29 PM
The only reason this so called "plan" went through is because Hussein Obama is furthering the agenda of the Globalist Elites to create a ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT under THE NEW WORLD ORDER. It has NOTHING to do with the fraudulent votes. WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!

by: Cranksy from: USA
June 30, 2012 9:29 PM
Obama to the Supreme Court: "I love you back."

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
June 29, 2012 8:43 PM
Personal freedom v.s.public obligation. Give and take. Both are needed, should be balanced. Strong should help week. Week shoud make efforts to be independent. Everybody should help each other without doubt but with hope. Everybody should have pride.

I'm sure wise Americans make a thoughtful decision that makes rights of evrybody to live healthy come true. We have been helped by a fair, couraigeous and self-sacrificing leader whenever we are in big trouble, haven' we? Who is such? Obama or Romney?

by: Amanda from: michigan
June 29, 2012 5:31 PM
i do not have health ins because i cant afford to pay for it, so im gonna have to pay to not have it too? hmmm what to do, do i let my house go first or my car????

by: another poor american from: arizona
June 29, 2012 3:52 PM
can anybody explain to me how millions of americans making a minimum wage will pay for health insurance when the cost is about half of your wages and covers only 80 percent and about $2500 a year on deductible .And no insurance company will sell you an" emergency only" plan that could be afortable for the poor people.

by: dee from: ar
June 29, 2012 7:16 AM
i can understand having to have car insurance for reason if you are in a wreck and its your fault so that the other person will get taking care of.....but what does my health have to do with anyone else. if i have a heart attack cause i didnt go to a doctor, thats my own fault. how does that effect eveyone else. its crazy that i will be fined if i dont get health insurance!!! that should be my choice..not anyone elses!!!!

by: Observer from: Southeastasia
June 29, 2012 6:06 AM
It's time Romney presented his health care plan, and let it be compared with Obamacare by the Americans in the presidential election.

by: Andy Perez from: Las Vegas
June 28, 2012 9:50 PM
This is BS. It's bad enough we are almost 16 trillion dollars in debt now in order to win the mass of idiots we have in this country he drops another plan that is gonna further place us all in debt and ruin. Wake up people these extra last minute programs is coming out of your own pocket. I believe in helping other but it gets to the point that almost a 3rd of our money goes to other peoples pockets through taxes plus the 8 - 10 percent tax they take from everything we purchase. Sad thing is that a lot of people know this, but they just don't care.

by: Lars Troide from: Apple Hill, Ontario
June 28, 2012 7:10 PM
Funny, but no one so far seems to have mentioned religion. The Obama bill is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment, which says that the State shall not interfere with religious practices. The Obama bill forces abortion, contraception and other such practices on institutions (hospitals, clinics, adoption agencies) which conscientiously reject such practices. Oh Brave New World! And don't tell me that a 5-4 vote is divinely objective. Secularism wins again. I guess the good old USA is getting what it deserves. BTW, I'm a born American who lives in Canada because of my work. Does this mean 4 more years of Obama? OMG!
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