Senator, Bernie Sanders Reaction
Governor Peter Shumlin Reaction
This morning, in a much-anticipated decision, Supreme Court justices upheld President Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act, which was passed by Democrats in 2010.
A key provision in the Act is an individual mandate that requires all Americans to maintain a minimum level of heath insurance. Beginning in 2014, if one does not maintain a health insurance policy, a fine will be assessed, called a “shared responsibility payment,” to the International Revenue Service.
A 5-4 swing vote in favor of keeping the Act in place was tipped by Chief Justice John Roberts, who said that the requirement for individuals to maintain minimum does indeed fall within Congress’ power.
In a statement issued by Congressman Peter Welch, he applauded the move, saying, “This historic decision by the Supreme Court clears the way to get about the business of ensuring that every American finally has access to quality and affordable health care. The Affordable Care Act will remain the law of the land.”
Representative Alison Clarkson said she was “thrilled” to hear news of the decision. “I think that it makes total sense to uphold the mandate. Otherwise, who’s paying for (healthcare)?” Clarkson said that she feels that the plan has been undersold to the public. “On the face of it, it sounds like there are great elements to the plan… on the other hand, once people understand what’s in that enormously large bill, they’ll be glad.”
Clarkson said that the next hurdle is to manage the costs.
“We all use health care — it’s only fair that we contribute to its enormous cost. We have to now work on constraining cost.”
Executive Director of Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) Paul Burns issued a statement, saying “The Court’s decision today will refocus attention on reform in the states. For Vermont, that means we have been given a giant green light to move forward with what may be the nation’s most ambitious health care reform plan. The result will be lower costs, better care and a model for other states to follow.”
The single exception in the opinion is the Medicaid expansion: the majority of the court ruled that Congress has the ability to expand Medicaid, but with the caveat that they cannot take away a state’s Medicaid funds as a penalty for not participating in the expansion.
Roberts wrote, ““The Affordable Care Act is constitutional in part and unconstitutional in part,” and said that “The individual mandate cannot be upheld as an exercise of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause. That Clause authorizes Congress to regulate interstate commerce, not to order individuals to engage in it.”