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.

You May Like

Video Getting to Zero AIDS Infections

More than 35 million people around the world are infected with HIV, a disease that is both preventable and treatable

Children, Childhoods Lost in European Refugee Crisis

According to UNICEF, 190,000 children applied for political asylum in Europe in the first 9 months of this year - twice as many as last year

What Happened When I Landed in Antarctica

Refael Klein chronicles what it's like to visit one of the coldest, most desolate places on Earth

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 3
 Previous   Next 
by: jayburd2020 from: Chicago
June 28, 2012 6:15 PM
Good news for supporters of Obamacare, but am I the only one not surprised the Court shied away from ruling on the constitutionality of man-dates? Must be waiting for a good same-sex marriage case. For 5 "Supreme" jokes on the Court and the Beltway, enjoy this blog on

by: Learn To Read from: USA
June 28, 2012 5:22 PM
I know this is just a comment amongst thousands... but PLEASE understand what this bill does... It doesn't provide anything, it taxes you if you don't purchase something. So what happens to those poor souls who can't afford health care? They are hit with a tax or a large monthly bill now. HOORAY! We have saved the day!... Please learn to read things before you support them.

To claim to be republican or democrat is foolish. The only way we can make this country great is to educate ourselves and vote individually on candidates. Continuing to vote on one party is a waste of a vote.

by: Disgusted from: TX
June 28, 2012 5:08 PM
Recently Chief Justice Roberts has upheld liberal programs in immigration and now healthcare. Conservative? Not any more,. I'd like to know what they have on him because I do not believe any reasonable interpretation of the law would allow this ruling. Heads up America. You will be taxed into oblivion causing us to become a 3rd world country. SO FED UP!

by: Idle from: New York
June 28, 2012 4:20 PM
its like sombody was on motorcycle without wearing helmet got pulled over and got ticket , other side cop stop man on sidewalk was walking and wearing helmet and give him ticket coz he was wearing helmet and he dont have motorcyle

by: Andreifonov from: Russia
June 28, 2012 4:14 PM
The battle for health seems to be most important in this story, so the U.S. Supreme Court decision has important significance. Interestingly, in 26 Republican state representatives of the Democratic Party, since the entry into force of this "Bill of Health" from 2014 can be used in favor of Barack Obama this circumstance. So, B. Obama wins here.
If only technically, the voter will receive payment for treating 32 million people, and strass campaign - the new flow of funds. As a complement, the U.S. will begin to develop the medical industry and innovation. This will improve the rating of President.

by: Shawn from: Colorado
June 28, 2012 4:07 PM
I forsee WAY too many issues with this. The government takes seconds to charge you for something, but takes MONTHS or YEARS to get a refund.

What about if I have insurance and they charge me anyway?
Or how about the stinking, lying, greedy illegals crossing the border getting free s***? We ever gonna do something about that? They get free healthcare, but I am forced to either buy my own or get charged for an unknown policy? Yeah. I'm loving this country more every day....

by: Joe from: TN
June 28, 2012 3:04 PM
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark on their right hand, or on their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore six. - Rev.13:16-18
In Response

by: Mae from: PA
June 29, 2012 12:27 PM
Well quoted! This is what it's coming too.

by: Tracy
June 28, 2012 2:51 PM
I think this article forgot to mention one important fact. Its not just "Making people buy insurance" its prohibiting insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions and its also allowing parents to keep their children on family policies to the age of 26.

by: Winsor from: Florida
June 28, 2012 1:51 PM
@ Fred that's Funny.. I think president Obama has a good chance to win November election because everything is going in his favor.

by: annonomous from: la
June 28, 2012 1:51 PM
I will not follow this man bringing this country straight to hell.
In Response

by: Steven from: Maryland
June 28, 2012 5:15 PM
Yes you will... you're weak, you have no voice. I love Obama, I'm voting for him in the next election.
In Response

by: annonomous from: flint
June 28, 2012 4:19 PM
this country was already on its way to hell before obama was ever in office. You got bush to thank for that, so get your facts straight as#hole.
Comments page of 3
 Previous   Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs