The Great Divide
In a split 5-4 decision, the nation’s highest court upheld the constitutionality of the act’s most controversial provision — the individual mandate that requires Americans to buy health care insurance beginning in 2014, or pay a penalty. The Court, however, did limit the federal government’s ability to threaten states with a cutoff of Medicaid funds unless they follow the federal government’s dictates in expanding coverage under the Medicaid program.
The Court’s decision on the mandate upended a legal challenge raised by 26 Republican-controlled states who argued that just as Congress cannot require people to buy broccoli or pizza, Congress lacks authority under the Commerce Clause to force citizens to purchase insurance.
At press time, the Republican-controlled House had scheduled a vote to repeal Obamacare next week when they return from the July 4th recess. But even if the House votes for repeal, their measure will be considered dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
To paraphrase the old lament of Brooklyn Dodgers’ fans, it looks like “wait till next year” for the Republicans, whose only real chance to repeal the bill will hinge on sweeping the White House and both chambers of Congress in November’s elections.
The two big winners were Obama and certain health care stocks — mainly shares of hospital corporations and Medicaid-focused insurance companies — which soared in the two trading days after the court ruling.
Obama averted the political embarrassment of seeing the linchpin legislation of his first term being declared unconstitutional. He will still have to come up with a rejoinder to Republican arguments as to the wisdom of the government sponsoring such an expensive and invasive plan at a time when the federal deficit has reached epic proportions. And many doctors say they are on the verge of leaving a profession they claim is choked with bureaucracy.
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