The U.S. Supreme Court this morning revealed that a key part of President Obama's Affordable health care reform has been upheld.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act is the president's biggest achievement, signed in 2010, designed to ensure health care coverage and cut costs in the health care system.
The Supreme Court reviewed the constitutionality of the individual mandate, requiring nearly every American to buy health insurance. The legal question centers on whether such a regulation is allowed under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, which allows the federal government to regulate interstate activity.
The key Obama achievement was upheld in a 5-4 vote, with Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. siding to uphold the law and writing the decision. (The decision is attached to this story).
The president is expected to speak about the decision in a few hours from the White House.
Pundits and politicians alike are already heralding the decision as a major political boon to Obama, whose supporters were concerned that an overturn of the law, or just the individual mandate, would harm the president's re-election bid this year.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said she was pleased the Supreme Court reaffirmed the "hard-fought" progress that was made to ensure that no one can be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition.
"Being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing condition, young adults will be covered, prescription drug costs for seniors will be reduced, preventive care including life-saving mammograms will be accessible and that insurance companies can’t cancel their coverage when you get sick. It is time to get beyond scoring political points and get back to finding common core values and passing legislation that will help grow our economy and get more people back to work," she said.
But not all are pleased with the outcome.
"I was surprised and disappointed in the Supreme Court's decision," said State Assemblyman Robert Castelli (R-Goldens Bridge).
"While I support some aspects of the Obama health care plan, I believe that it would have been in the best interests of the nation to strike down the mandatory requirement. At a time when the nation is facing an economic crisis second only to the Great Depression, this was not the time to increase the national debt by more than a trillion dollars. Other more viable options could have, and should have been considered," he said.
Obama's health care law, which also requires health insurers to provide cover to children of policy holders up to 26 years old and bans insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, was challenged by several states which argued that some of its conditions, particularly the individual mandate, was unconstitutional.
Republicans also had vehemently opposed the health care law and their presumptive presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, has vowed to seek its repeal if he's elected.
One of the key opinions of the decision today is the court found that the law is essentially a tax increase, which is allowed by the Constitution.