Point of View
LOS ANGELES—The United States Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the Individual Mandate is constitutional. In an unprecedented 5-4 decision, the court upheld the controversial centerpiece of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
The primary argument made by the federal government in
support of the individual mandate did not hold up against scrutiny in court.
The government argued that the Necessary and Proper Clause of the U.S.
constitution granted the federal government the right to impose a penalty on
those who refused to purchase healthcare. The court disagreed, claiming the
Necessary and Proper Clause did not extend its power this far. But the Court
did accept the government’s fallback argument: Congress has the right to levy
taxes under the Constitution and can therefore impose its penalty as a tax for
those who refuse to buy subsidized healthcare.
Californians will be affected by this decision more greatly than any other state because it has the largest population and the largest number of uninsured residents, according to the California Endowment. The organization is a private, nonpartisan health foundation created with the objective to educate and improve the health of California residents. The foundation claims Californians are less likely to be insured or receive employer based coverage, and are at greater risk of being denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions.
When the law is fully implemented, it will allow at least 5.9 million non-elderly uninsured Californians to obtain health insurance by 2014, and it is expected that between 1.6 and 1.9 million Californians will join Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program. Additionally, 370,000 Californians will gain coverage through the county-implemented Low Income Health Program before transferring to Medi-Cal in 2014.
According to a statement released by Mitchell Katz, Director of the County Department of Health Services, 2.2 million uninsured Californians live in Los Angeles and 1.7 million of them will gain access to healthcare as a result of the Supreme Court ruling.
Opponents of Obamacare see the Supreme Court decision as an overstep in government authority, one that will lead to tax increases and contribute to a climbing deficit. Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticized Obamacare during a public statement made in Washington, saying “It was bad policy yesterday, it is bad policy today.” Romney also said that he would repeal the law on his first day in office if he were elected President.
President Obama said during his statement at the White House on Wednesday that he believes it is time to move on “The highest court in the land has now spoken” the President said. “We will continue to implement this law, and we will continue to improve on it where we can.”
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