Healthcare Insurance Mandate Upheld in Supreme Court
Congress has the authority to enforce the individual mandate in the Affordable Healthcare Act according to the Supreme Court.
Judge Roberts says, "Nothing in the Constitution guarantees that individuals may avoid taxation by inactivity." This ruling is a stinging defeat for conservatives who felt the Supreme Court was sure to shoot down that portion of the act. The Court agreed that the government can impose tax penalties on persons that do not have health isurance.
The court siided with the administration,saying that the mandate was a regulation of inter-state commerce and participation in health care services and does not force people to participate in the market for health care insurance.
States will be given a choice to participate in the Act's expanded Medicare program or to continue as it is currently written as well. The Court ruled that the government cannot withhold Medicare funds from states that opt out of the expanded program. The court said that the government cannot require the states to follow that part of the law.
The penalties for non-exempt individuals who choose not comply begin very weak, with the beginning tax at $95 in 2014. It goes up as years pass however, finally topping out at $695. Use of Leins or seizures of property will not be allowed as a means of collectiung this penalty. A person cannot be jailed for non-compliance as well.
More than eight in 10 Americans already have health insurance. But for most of the 50 million who are uninsured, the ruling offers the promise of guaranteed coverage at affordable prices. Lower-income and many middle-class families will be eligible for subsidies to help pay premiums starting in 2014.
Alaska's Senator Lisa Murkowski, as expected came out strongly opposing the Supreme Court's decision, saying:
“Today’s news from the Supreme Court is troubling to me in that it sets a new precedent for governmental overreach into our health care choices, and a wide majority of Alaskans and Americans feel the same way.
“Moving forward, we must repeal this bill and responsibly address health care in a timely fashion. There are many reasons why Alaskans did not like this bill – whether it is because of the new federal tax forcing every American to purchase a service, over $500 billion in cuts to the already anemic Medicare program which would have further restricted access to doctors and hospitals for disabled and elderly Alaskans, the higher taxes on individuals, families and small businesses throughout America or the onerous new IRS reporting requirements for millions of Americans.
“We need health care reform that will help Alaskans – helping them improve access to care; and reduce costs by allowing individuals to purchase health insurance across state lines, reform medical liability so we can limit the practice of defensive medicine, and restructure the delivery system of health care to make it more affordable and accessible.
“The nation’s economic path is currently unsustainable, and the rising cost of health care is a major reason for this. America’s health care system is entirely too expensive and entirely too inefficient. I stand ready to work with anyone who wants to replace this law with something smarter, leaner and more responsive to Alaskans.”
Judge Robert's opinion was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.