06.28.2012 09:54 AM

Obamacare ruling, explained

In Plain English: The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn’t comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.


  1. Bill From Willowdale says:

    I guess this brings America into the 20th century.

  2. Kelly says:

    I don’t understand why the Dems just didn’t originally frame the whole thing as “extending medicare to everyone.” Tea baggers were out there waving signs, “Government keep your hands off my medicare”; it’s a popular and effective program. The signs either displayed ignorance or a playful sense of irony (personally I think it was the latter.)

  3. Dan says:

    Further explained:

    John Roberts is a Conservative. And the individual mandate is a Conservative aspect of the legislation. It doesn’t resemble Canadian health care. It includes a requirement to buy health insurance. That’s something Republicans and their donors have been dreaming about for years. Business people LOVE laws that force people to buy things.

    Conservatives have been caught in a difficult position over the past four years. As Mitt Romney can tell you, the individual mandate was exactly what they wanted for years. Since Richard Nixon. But when Obama passed it, it because a socialist government takeover of medicine. Republicans had to oppose it because they didn’t want to hand Obama a victory. But they couldn’t oppose it too loud, because all those insurance lobbyists who donate to both parties would get too mad.

    John Roberts is a Conservative. He can’t win the election for Mitt Romney. But he can protect the profits for insurance companies.

    For the record, as flawed as this legislation is, I’m glad they upheld it. America needed SOME kind of reform. Obama also needed the win, and Americans needed to believe that government can do something good again. Let’s just hope that America can still learn from our successful health care system, which is both cheaper and better. And let’s hope we can learn from some of the health care systems in Europe, which are even cheaper and better than ours.

    • Bruce M says:

      And there’s the rub: It is a terribly crafted law.
      Universal healthcare? Sure. But this still leaves 10 MILLION without it.
      Equality of care? PIPE DREAM: Expensive systems with preferential treatment are embedded in the law.
      State transportable? Yes, but some states got rediculous deals in order to buy their senate votes, enshrining into the law that California (bankrupt) pays while North Dakota (rich with gas money) is exempt.

      It goes on and on and on.

      It is a BAD law and the US of A will be paying for a political win for generations.

      • kenn2 says:

        It is a BAD law and the US of A will be paying for a political win for generations.

        Not doing anything (the GOP solution) was worse. And, you may have noticed that they hold elections alot. This means the laws could be amended in a little less time than, say, generations.

  4. Sean says:

    Yes We Can

  5. kre8tv says:

    This is a good outcome, particularly since it was the Chief Justice himself who broke the tie vote, thus quelling the knee-jerk victim rhetoric from the right about how an activist liberal court was meddling in social policy.

    I look again and again at reaction today and I am reminded of just how little I understand what drives public opinion in America these days. And as you (well I think it was you) once pointed out, Canadians all tend to have a tin ear when it comes to US politics. But what I see here is a majority decision based on what is practical, necessary and reasonable for the good of the country rather than a decision based on deeply held (albeit deeply flawed) principles.

  6. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    So much for counting on Kennedy.

  7. Darren says:

    First the US tax system catches Al Capone and now it saves Obama’s health care bill. That’s one effective set of laws.

  8. JamesHalifax says:

    The US tax system is 100’s of thousands of pages long. No wonder no one in the US can understand it without an Accountant.

    Canada has an overabundance of regulation and policy as well..but no where near as convoluted as the USA.

    Of Course….if the NDP ever get in, Canada’s Tax system will be shortened considerably. It will consist of:

    “How much money did you make last year?”

    “Send it to us”

    Thomas Mulcair and his band of Seperatist socialists say thank you.

  9. JVR says:

    Of course, just like social democracy in Europe is crashing and burning as it was always unsustainable, it will in some years nosedive in Canada as well.

    Wealth is something is created, and you cannot spread it before it exists.

    Sure, you can borrow from the future for a while, but the stresses that induce in your economy must one day unwind.

    That not one, (not even one), social democratic state has managed to balance its spreading of wealth with generation of wealth since the inception of great social programs after WWII, must be saying something about the long term sustainability of these programs.

    I for one, love free health care, who does not love free goodies. But the future, I think, will exact payment for this. No-one can beat the second law of thermodynamics, not even socialists, or social democracy.

    While we stare at the destruction of the free goodies programs in Europe (and do not argue that Germany will save them all — even Germany is in dire straights because of her deathbed demographics**), perhaps one should start to consider what can happen here….

    **) As for the demographics, one may be able to import people, but I assure you that one cannot import wealth, except if you become a colonial power.

    Sorry to rain on your parade.

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