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Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Largely Upheld by Supreme Court


In what has been termed the most consequential decision of the decade, the U.S. Supreme Court today upheld the individual mandate stipulation of the health care reform law championed by President Barack Obama. 


Issues surrounding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)--President Obama's signature health care legislation, were the constitutionality of the mandate which requires all Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty and the expansion of Medicaid. The Act increases federal aid to the states for Medicaid, but puts current funding at risk if states fail to comply with the new requirements.  


In this landmark ruling, the Supreme Court has upheld the individual mandate provision which requires most U.S. citizens and legal residents maintain minimum essential health insurance coverage for tax years ending after Dec. 31, 2013, or pay a penalty. The mandate was considered the lynchpin of the health care Act and there was widespread speculation that if it failed other provisions of the ACT would not survive.

The Supreme Court found that the mandate did not meet standards under the Constitution's Commerce Clause (the authority to regulate interstate commerce) or the Necessary and Proper Clause. However, the Court's 5-4 majority opinion, authored by Chief Justice Roberts, concluded that the mandate was a valid exercise of the Constitution's Tax Clause (the authority to tax). Accordingly, President Obama's landmark health care reform, while still controversial and a hotly debated political issue, has been legitimized as a valid law.


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