What it means and what’s next

06/29/2012 12:00 AM

06/29/2012 8:55 AM


The Supreme Court decision upholding President Barack Obama’s health care law affects nearly every American. The law tells almost everyone they must have health coverage and guarantees it will be available to them even if they are already ill or need hugely expensive care. It helps the poor and many middle-class people afford coverage.


The high court upheld almost all of the law, including the most disputed part: the mandate that virtually all Americans have health insurance or pay a fine. The court said that fine is essentially a tax, and that’s why the government has the power to impose it.

The ruling limited the law’s plan to expand the Medicaid insurance program for the poor, a joint effort of the federal government and states. It says the U.S. government cannot withhold a state’s entire Medicaid allotment if it doesn’t participate in the expansion.


The court upheld Obama’s signature legislative achievement. Final word from the court amplifies the most polarizing issue of his re-election campaign against Republican Mitt Romney. GOP lawmakers and Romney have promised to repeal the law if they are in power after the November election.


The 2010 health care law will keep taking effect. It’s expected to bring coverage to about 30 million uninsured people. Overall, more than 9 in 10 eligible Americans will be covered.


Starting in 2014, almost everyone will be required to be insured or pay a fine. There are subsidies to help people who can’t afford coverage. Most employers will face fines if they don’t offer coverage. Newly created insurance markets will make it easier for individuals and businesses to buy affordable coverage. Medicaid will be expanded for more low-income people.

The Associated Press

Jubilation, sorrow outside the Supreme Court

Partisan crowds cheered and jeered outside the Supreme Court as the decision upholding most of the Obama administration's health care law was announced. (Video by Rebecca Cohen, McClatchy Newspapers)

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