Breaking News: SCOTUS Upholds Affordable Care Act…Details Coming

My intuition was correct.   I think Judge Roberts made his choice.   His own reputation and that of the Supreme Court was more important to him than his conservative ideology.

The bottom line is that the majority has voted to uphold the ACA.  The majority opinion was written by Chief Justice John Roberts, who joined the more liberal justices.   I will add details and links as I get them.  Please post anything you hear in comments.

The New York Times says the law has has been basically upheld.  Their live updates are here.

But I’m hearing on MSNBC that the Court said the states can opt out of the program. That could be a serious problem for the law if it affects the size of the population pool. The mandate is “technically unconstitutional,” but the government can penalize people who don’t buy insurance–through the government’s power to tax. However the law doesn’t actually include a penalty.

It sounds like the issue the states can opt out on is the Medicaid expansion. That could be a big problem.

News Links

ABC News: The Mandate Can Stay, Supreme Court Says in Health Care Ruling

Washington Post: Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Law, Mandate

LA Times: Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Law as Tax Measure

CNN International: Where in the world can you get universal health care?

CNN: Supreme Court Upholds Obamacare 5-4

I’ll continue to update in the comments.

99 Comments on “Breaking News: SCOTUS Upholds Affordable Care Act…Details Coming”

  1. Fannie says:

    Hooray, now watch the GOP head to our local hospitals for “RED EYE and TEAR Syndrome”.

  2. RalphB says:

    Mandate upheld 5-4. Which means Roberts, but not Kennedy, joined the left of the court. WTF Kennedy?

  3. mablue2 says:

    How’s Crazy Uncle Tony Scalia going to react?

  4. Pat Johnson says:

    I admit to being surprised that this decision came down as it has.

    UHC now! UHC now! UHC now! The best outcome yet to come.

    • Woman Voter says:

      My state has gained more members for the Single Payer Bill as the Obama Care has only raised rates and we fear more mini-plans that will cover next to nothing ($2,000 A YEAR) and cost those earning minimum wage a almost the very amount a year.

      So, Obama has a win, but the court calls it a TAX, so it may cost him in November.

      I still want Single Payer / The Public Option HR 676.

      • bostonboomer says:

        There won’t be any tax. The law doesn’t provide for a penalty.

      • Woman Voter says:

        Just saying what the legal experts are saying and the court says it was a TAX and therefore legal.

      • bostonboomer says:

        The justices probably don’t even know that there’s no penalty in the bill. LOL

      • ANonOMouse says:

        WV….I supported HR676 too. My objection to ACA was that the insurance companies were allowed to stay in the mix, but I’ve seen first hand the benefits of the ACA to Medicare recipients and I believe that when ACA is fully rolled out in 2014, Americans will see for themselves that there are many more benefits than problems with the ACA. I’m still hopeful that we can get to SPUHC from here.

      • propertius says:

        There won’t be any tax. The law doesn’t provide for a penalty.

        Have you actually read the bill, BB? Section 1016 contains the following:

        `(1) IN GENERAL- If a taxpayer who is an applicable individual, or an applicable individual for whom the taxpayer is liable under paragraph (3), fails to meet the requirement of subsection (a) for 1 or more months, then, except as provided in subsection (e), there is hereby imposed on the taxpayer a penalty with respect to such failures in the amount determined under subsection (c).’.

        (2) Paragraphs (1) and (2) of section 5000A(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as so added, are amended to read as follows:

        `(1) IN GENERAL- The amount of the penalty imposed by this section on any taxpayer for any taxable year with respect to failures described in subsection (b)(1) shall be equal to the lesser of–

        `(A) the sum of the monthly penalty amounts determined under paragraph (2) for months in the taxable year during which 1 or more such failures occurred, or

        `(B) an amount equal to the national average premium for qualified health plans which have a bronze level of coverage, provide coverage for the applicable family size involved, and are offered through Exchanges for plan years beginning in the calendar year with or within which the taxable year ends.

        `(2) MONTHLY PENALTY AMOUNTS- For purposes of paragraph (1)(A), the monthly penalty amount with respect to any taxpayer for any month during which any failure described in subsection (b)(1) occurred is an amount equal to 1/12 of the greater of the following amounts:

        `(A) FLAT DOLLAR AMOUNT- An amount equal to the lesser of–

        `(i) the sum of the applicable dollar amounts for all individuals with respect to whom such failure occurred during such month, or

        `(ii) 300 percent of the applicable dollar amount (determined without regard to paragraph (3)(C)) for the calendar year with or within which the taxable year ends.

        `(B) PERCENTAGE OF INCOME- An amount equal to the following percentage of the taxpayer’s household income for the taxable year:

        `(i) 0.5 percent for taxable years beginning in 2014.

        `(ii) 1.0 percent for taxable years beginning in 2015.

        `(iii) 2.0 percent for taxable years beginning after 2015.’.

        (3) Section 5000A(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as added by section 1501(b) of this Act, is amended by striking `$350′ and inserting `$495′.

        (c) Section 5000A(d)(2)(A) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as added by section 1501(b) of this Act, is amended to read as follows:

        `(A) RELIGIOUS CONSCIENCE EXEMPTION- Such term shall not include any individual for any month if such individual has in effect an exemption under section 1311(d)(4)(H) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which certifies that such individual is–

        `(i) a member of a recognized religious sect or division thereof which is described in section 1402(g)(1), and

        `(ii) an adherent of established tenets or teachings of such sect or division as described in such section.’.

        (d) Section 5000A(e)(1)(C) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as added by section 1501(b) of this Act, is amended to read as follows:

        `(C) SPECIAL RULES FOR INDIVIDUALS RELATED TO EMPLOYEES- For purposes of subparagraph (B)(i), if an applicable individual is eligible for minimum essential coverage through an employer by reason of a relationship to an employee, the determination under subparagraph (A) shall be made by reference to required contribution of the employee.’.

        So: there’s no penalty *if* you’re a Christian Scientist. Otherwise, it’s the cost of a “Bronze” plan for the first 3 non-covered individuals.

        I’m surprised that the Court wasn’t discomfited by the notion of a tax that doesn’t apply to certain religious denominations.

    • propertius says:

      The whole point of the ACA is to kill any hope of single-payer for at least a generation.

      • dakinikat says:

        That’s why I am surprised any of the conservative justices wouldn’t like it … it’s so business friendly. Roberts–coupled most likely with concern for his name in history and law books–probably saw that.

      • propertius says:

        I’m with you, Kat, I think the ACA was an unmitigated disaster for the progressive cause. It’s essentially a welfare act for insurance companies and Big Pharma. I don’t think we’ll see single-payer in my lifetime.

  5. Beata says:

    Amazing to me that Roberts voted with the more liberal justices. Did he have a road to Damascus experience?

  6. Pat Johnson says:

    My second best thing today would be that when the Congressional Black Caucus stands up in a body and exits the House chambers when a vote is called for to go after Holder, more members of the Dem Party follow suit.

    This would be a stick in the eye to those thugs led by Issa to create something out of nothing for the sake of political gain.

    Go Dems! Show some backbone for once!

  7. ecocatwoman says:

    Per Diane Rehm show, Kennedy’s opinion was that the entire Act was unconstitutional.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    From SCOTUSblog:

    The rejection of the Commerce Clause and Nec. and Proper Clause should be understood as a major blow to Congress’s authority to pass social welfare laws. Using the tax code — especially in the current political environment — to promote social welfare is going to be a very chancy proposition.

  9. Beata says:

    The decision on Medicaid expansion is worrisome. Can someone explain it to me? I’m confused.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I think everyone is still confused. The “experts” are still studying the opinion.

    • Woman Voter says:

      The Public Option was the better and simpler thing, and it would have been welcomed by business, this bill offers a fine, and op-out and no coverage leaving the person out there trying to find a plan to buy.

      What people aren’t being told is that it is often more costly to keep your children on your plan, as they are billed per the insurer’s age and not the the young person. So, that isn’t something being discussed in detail.

      HR 676 was blocked by Obama and Pelosi. If this was so great, Obama should have pulled all of congress’ coverage and had them buy their insurance per this bill. Also, it did nothing to address the double cost of health care in the country with worker’s comp in comparison to other countries.

      • RalphB says:

        Coverage under HR676 wasn’t free either. One-noting on that at this point in time is infinitely boring.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I see this as a first step toward medicare for all.

      • RalphB says:

        BB, so do I. In the end, it’s almost inevitable.

      • Outis says:

        I want to say to Ralph that I think your comment was Woman Voter was unnecessarily harsh. I don’t comment here often but I stop by every day because this isn’t a place where people get bullied into shutting up. But that’s been happening a lot more lately and I wish it would get nipped in the bud before it gets out of hand.

      • RalphB says:

        Outis and WV. Sorry, it wasn’t meant to be that way,

      • Outis says:

        Ralph, thanks for being so civil about it. 🙂

    • RalphB says:

      The Medicaid expansion is constitutional. The only thing is it was limited as follows. The Feds can provide for more coverage by Medicaid in the states but, if the state says no the Feds cannot take away the states prior existing Medicaid funding.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I see. Thanks, Ralph!

      • Beata says:

        So states can opt out of Medicaid expansion? That doesn’t sound good for the uninsured poor.

      • RalphB says:

        It’s not good for the uninsured poor at all and is the most worrisome part of the decisions. It should be good for state Democratic parties though. If only they’ll run on a vote for us if you want health care platform, but that’s a stretch for some of them.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      Beata….If I remember correctly the ACA would have increased the rolls of Medicaid by raising the qualification threshold and then subsidizing the states accordingly for the increase in medicaid recipients. I don’t think anyone who is currently on Medicaid will be affected by this ruling.

      It seems likely that if the Government was going to subsidize the States coverage for these folks, that it would subsidize a private insurer or co-op for their coverage.

      I hope we get more details soon because this is all very confusing.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        excuse my tired old brain. I should have said “changing” the qualification threshold making more people eligible for Medicaid.

      • Beata says:

        Thanks for your explanation, Mouse. It’s always good to see you commenting!

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Thank you Beata. U know where my heart is concerning the poor, so I’m anxious to find out how this will affect those who are not at the poverty level, but have been priced out of the commercial insurance market. There are so many people who work 2 or 3, 30hr a week jobs for minimum wage and simply do not get the medical & mental health care they need and deserve. From my perspective healthcare is a right, not a privilege. I hope this medicaid issue is resolved quickly so that everyone is covered when the plan is implemented in 2014.

  10. bostonboomer says:

    I wonder how Mitt Romney will spin this as an Obama failure?

    • RalphB says:

      Huge lies, like everything else he says.

    • propertius says:

      He’ll spin it as “The largest middle tax tax increase since the Johnson Administration”.

      Which, according to this decision, it is.

      Too bad we didn’t get single-payer in exchange.

  11. janicen says:

    This is awesome. Maybe that will make the supporters of compulsory pregnancy to think twice about the insane legislation they keep pushing hoping for a SCOTUS challenge of Roe v. Wade. One can only hope.

    I’m honestly elated.

  12. bostonboomer says:

    Romney will speak at 11:45 and Obama at 12:15.

  13. RalphB says:

    Pierce: Broccoli loses.

  14. bostonboomer says:

    Mitt Romney is speaking now. He’s already lying. He still says he’ll repeat “Obamacare” on day one. He still doesn’t understand that Congress would have to repeal it, meaning a 60 vote majority in the Senate.

    • bostonboomer says:

      He now listing a bunch of things that are already in the bill. Says people with pre-existing conditions must be covered, people who don’t have insurance should be covered, costs should be lowered. People should be able to choose what kind of insurance they want. Those are all in the bill, Willard.

    • RalphB says:

      Romney is horrible. I’d like to say that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is just awesome! Her opinion on the ACA, specifically the mandate, is the best.

  15. bostonboomer says:

    Obama talking now.

    CNN and Fox News initially reported that SCOTUS struck down the mandate.

  16. Pat Johnson says:

    I’m tuned into C-Span now and watching the arguments on the Floor regarding Holder.

    Have I mentioned lately how much I despise the GOP?

    • RalphB says:

      I may have heard that before but I never tire of hearing it. I despise the GOP with a white hot passion!

  17. I really need to catch up on all this, but About that Medicaid ruling… – The Maddow Blog

    What was supposed to be one of the more straightforward aspects of the case against the Affordable Care Act turned out to be the most complicated. While the big story is obviously Obamacare’s unexpected victory, the point about expanded Medicare eligibility is worth considering in more detail.

    • Beata says:

      The Medicaid expansion issue has been largely ignored by legal experts and the press up until now. Today’s ruling on expansion and the ability for states to opt out could have wide-ranging legal implications that go beyond the ACA. We’ll have to wait and see.

      • RalphB says:

        Tom Goldstein of SCOTUSblog, a legitimate court expert, thought it would have very limited implications. However, all the more political types seem to be reaching for smelling salts or heading to their fainting couch.

      • Beata says:

        I hope Goldstein is right, Ralph.

      • RalphB says:

        Beata, So do I! He called the court’s decision correctly yesterday so he may be right.

  18. RalphB says:

    I’m sure they will all love the national healthcare there. Handy list of twitter idiots 🙂

    People Who Say They’re Moving To Canada Because Of ObamaCare

    • dakinikat says:

      That’s like all those Tea Party Folks that hate the gubmint but carry placards that say hands off my Medicare!!!

      • ANonOMouse says:

        “That’s like all those Tea Party Folks that hate the gubmint but carry placards that say hands off my Medicare!!!”


        That cracks me up!!!

    • ANonOMouse says:

      Oh Canada, the place to go when you’re looking to escape government run/subsidized healthcare.

      • northwestrain says:

        That just shows how out of touch the gopers are.

        I know a whole lot of Canadians and they are proud of their national health care. The only complaint that I’ve heard is that they must live in Canada for 6 months of every year otherwise they lose their healthcare coverage. Many Canadians love to travel — but they figure their time abroad very carefully.

    • HT says:

      I really liked the comment about moving to Canada because the U.S. was too socialist. We are not a socialist country per se, but we are far closer to that than the U.S. For example, we do have gun control. Our National Health Care system is funded through the tax structure etc etc. And what makes those people think that Canada would accept them – perhaps they don’t know it, but we do have an immigration system here as well.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        HT….Those poor fools know nothing about Canada, except it’s not in the U.S. it’s not in Mexico and they can drive there. 🙂 Don’t be surprised when all the pickem-up-trucks, with confederate flags on the cab window start streaming in. Ya’ll might need to beef up border security. 🙂

      • HT says:

        Jeebus mouse, you’re giving me nightmare visions!

  19. bostonboomer says:

    Statement by Eric Holder on the contempt vote:

    Attorney General Eric Holder issued a statement Thursday saying the vote to hold him in contempt “may make for good political theater in the minds of some, but it is – at base – both a crass effort and a grave disservice to the American people.”

    “Whatever the path that this matter will now follow, it will not distract me or the men and women of the Department of Justice from the important tasks that are our responsibility,” Holder said. “A great deal of work for the American people remains to be done – I’m getting back to it. I suggest that those who orchestrated today’s vote do the same.”