President Barack Obama’s health care law is constitutional, the United States Supreme Court ruled Thursday morning in a complex decision providing a sweeping affirmation to the president in an election year, while leaving Republicans with an easy target for the fall.
The Court’s ruling means, that unless Congress acts, in 2014 all Americans will be required to purchase health insurance in the most sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health care system since the Great Society. The Court, according to early analysis, redefined the mandate as a tax, skirting some Constitutional questions but offering a dramatic affirmation to Obama’s key initiative.
The ruling offers a central policy victory for President Barack Obama, who avoided having his signature legislative achievement being deemed unconstitutional. But the bill remains deeply unpopular. Republicans scored a landslide political victory in 2010 largely because of the bill, which, if anything, has only soured in the eyes of Americans.
Now, President Obama faces a re-election centered at least in part on his defense of the legislation, which he has repeatedly tried and failed to define in terms of its most popular provisions.
The thousands of people — primarily young and sick — already covered under some of the bill’s provisions will keep their insurance, and the 50 states will now be forced to move aggressively toward implementing a vast extension of private health insurance to tens of millions more.
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