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LEGAL ISSUES

Supreme Court Backs Obamacare

The Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act in a historic 5-4 decision; small business owners are split in their feelings about the ruling.

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on March 27, 2012.

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In perhaps its most momentous decision of the century, the Supreme Court delivered a 5-4 decision that, with few exceptions, upholds the Affordable Care Act. 

Chief Justice John Roberts, a noted conservative, voted to save the ACA. In his opinion, Roberts noted that though mandate would have been struck down under the commerce clause, but it was well within Congress' power under the taxing clause.

The judges' opinion reads: "Our precedent demonstrates that Congress had the power to impose the exaction in Section 5000A under the taxing power, and that Section 5000A need not be read to do more than impose a tax. This is sufficient to sustain it."

In other words, the judges view the mandate on health care as a tax--nothing more.

Amy Howe, covering the decision for SCOTUSBlog, noted: "The court reinforces that individuals can simply refuse to pay the tax and not comply with the mandate."

The court also noted that existing Medicaid funds will not be taken away. 

The Affordable Care Act's detractors argued that Congress overstepped its legal bounds when it instituted the "individual mandate" portion of the bill,  which required most Americans to buy health insurance or face a penalty. 

In the weeks leading up to the decision, the small business community appeared to be split in its feelings towards the decision.

The Small Business Majority, for instance, a left-leaning organization, recently found that 50 percent of small business owners want the healthcare reform law upheld--"either as is or with minor changes—while only one-third want the Supreme Court to overturn it."

But the National Federation for Independent Businesses--the organization that's brought the suit to the Supremes--found that "the overwhelming majority of small-business owners do not expect the law to reduce cost or regulatory burdens, and nearly two-thirds agree that the law will result in premium increases but not in better care."

IMAGE: LaDawna - via Flickr
Last updated: Jun 28, 2012




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