As we all know from the "media drama" as some might call the countless media coverage, news articles, blogs and other posts, the Supreme Court of the United States ("SCOTUS") upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("ACA") on June 28th, 2012. Although four questions were before the Court, it focused primarily on one--the challenge to the individual mandate to purchase insurance by 2014 or pay a "penalty".
In an opinion closing in on almost 200 pages, the Court found, 5-4, that the individual mandate penalty was constitutional. Although the government's Commerce Clause argument was rejected, Chief Justice Roberts bought one of its alternative arguments: that the individual mandate penalty was the functional equivalent of a "tax." However, the Court rejected the penalty which would have been imposed on states that refused to expand coverage under their Medicaid programs. Although granting higher funds for Medicaid expansion is permissible, withdrawal of all Medicaid funds to those states that do not would not be.
For those of you who have not and will not have the time to plow through and digest the lengthy opinion, here are some of the best "plain english" explanations of the Court's decision as well as some interesting commentary:
- Amy Howe, Today's Health-Care Decision: In Plain English, SCOTUSblog
- Marjorie M. Glover & Rachel M. Santangelo, The Far-Reaching Impact of the Supreme Court Health Care Reform Decision, Law.com
- Health Care Reform and the Supreme Court (multiple opinions and articles), and How the Justices Ruled on the Health Care Law, New York Times
- Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs, WWS Experts Weigh in about ACA Supreme Court Decision, Princeton University
- Jennifer Rubin, The Supreme Court's Obamacare Legacy: Part 1, and Part 2, The Washington Post
- David Harlow, The Supreme Court Upholds the ACA, with a Caveat about Medicaid Expansion, and The Supreme Court and the ACA: 5-4 Really? What the decision is about and not about, HealthBlawg
- John Jacobi, The New Medicaid Donut Hole: Turning Down Medicaid 2.0, Health Reform Watch
But for those of you with a spare weekend or a day on the beach, or those of you who may simply miss law school, break out your Kindle and a glass of wine or margarita to read the opinion and the dissents. You can download the full opinion here, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, from the SCOTUS website.