On June 28th, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature law approved by congress in 2010. Opponents of the law argued that the individual mandate, which requires all individuals to purchase health insurance or be charged a financial penalty by the government, was unconstitutional. However, in the majority opinion, Chief Justice Roberts interpreted the individual mandate as a tax, which is permitted by the constitution. Although the law was ruled constitutional, the Supreme Court did disagree with the Obama Administration’s argument that the mandate was justified by Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce. The court also limited the law’s ability to expand the Medicaid program. Under the original mandate, states would lose all Medicaid funding if they did not agree to the expansion. Seven of the nine justices ruled that this was not constitutional. Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg dissented on this ruling. As a result of the ruling, states can now choose to opt-out of the Medicaid expansion without losing the funding they currently receive for Medicaid. Despite some disagreements by the court, the Affordable Care Act survived largely intact, which proponents of the law see as a victory for the millions of Americans who do not have access to affordable health care.
The Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act is especially important for providing affordable healthcare to the nation’s children. Insurers will not be able to deny benefits to children with existing medical problems. Also, parents will be able to extend their policies to cover their children until the age of 26. The ruling maintains critical provisions which would positively impact low-income families. The Children’s Health Insurance Program will continue to be financed, which provides health insurance to children whose families fall in the gap between Medicaid coverage and the ability to afford private health insurance.