Thursday, June 28, 2012

Supreme Court Upholds "Obamacare"

Earlier today, the United States Supreme Court upheld the majority of the provisions contained in President Obama’s healthcare legislation.  Twenty-six states had challenged this legislation that would require citizens to purchase health insurance that met government mandated minimum standards; those who do not purchase said insurance will be fined.   Many have termed this case “the most significant before the court since at least the 2000 Bush v. Gore ruling”.   

Relying on Congress’ power to levy taxes, the Court voted 5-4 to uphold this provision.  The primary restriction that this ruling placed on the health care legislation related to the expansion of Medicaid by states; with the ruling, states will be given the flexibility to expand their Medicaid programs less than originally legislated without fear of being fined.

Republicans have vowed to continue fighting this legislation.  Presumptive Republican candidate for President, Mitt Romney, has stated he will reverse this legislation if he is elected.  While the goal of the legislation was to resolve the issue of the large number of uninsured citizens many are claiming that this legislation now opens the door for the government to require its citizens to purchase anything the government feels is a necessity, “with broccoli becoming the central example in court arguments.”

One of the major issues with this legislation is that many are not please that the government is requiring them to make a purchase that used to be their personal decision.   Most citizens are now required to purchase insurance whether they wish to or not, and whether they have the means to afford it or not.  The legislation does provide support for “poor and nearly poor households”, but there are others out there who do not qualify for this support that still may have issues affording this government mandated insurance.

The other main concern is determining where the government’s powers end with this type of legislation.  Surely the government cannot require its citizens to buy broccoli, but there are certainly other items the government may deem necessary for citizens’ well-being that are unnecessary and/or unaffordable to some.  Should the government try to expand these powers into other areas, the Supreme Court will be required to create clearer guidelines on what the government can and cannot require its citizens to purchase.

More information can be found in this article from the New York Times.