The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was upheld today by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling. Leading up to this ruling, officials from 26 states filed lawsuits against the ACA claiming that a key provision, the individual mandate requiring that all Americans maintain “minimum essential” health insurance coverage or else pay a penalty, violated the Constitution’s Commerce clause. The Court also ruled in the expansion of the scope of persons covered under Medicaid.
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Chief Justice John Roberts presented the ruling on the individual mandate and stated, “The Federal Government does have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance. Section 5000A is therefore constitutional, because [the individual mandate] can reasonably be read as a tax. Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.”
- Following this ruling, all Americans must have or buy health insurance by 2014.
- In 2014, the penalty will be $285 per family or 1% of income, whichever is greater.
- By 2016, the penalty goes up to $2,085 per family or 2.5% of income.
- Select groups of people will be exempt from the ACA mandate:
- Those with religious objections or who participate in a “health care sharing ministry”
- Those who are “not lawfully present” in the U.S.
- Those who are incarcerated
- Members of an Indian tribe
- Those who cannot afford coverage and or have suffered a hardship with respect to the capability to obtain coverage
- Those who experience only short gaps in coverage
- The ACA prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage to those with preexisting conditions or other health issues, or charging unhealthy individuals higher premiums than healthy individuals
- The additional expansion of the Medicaid program will require state programs to provide coverage by 2014 to adults with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level.