SCOTUS: Political Ramifications
Now that the Supreme Court has had its say, the future of health care reform now rests on which party gains control over Congress and the White House in November.
Thursday's court ruling, which keeps in place the individual mandate and other major portions of the Affordable Care Act, will shape the 2012 election as a choice between Democrats who supported the bill and Republicans who want to repeal it.
The decision was a major victory for President Barack Obama, who spent much of his first year in office pushing reform legislation through Congress. In response to the court's landmark decision the President stated, "Whatever the politics, today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it."
Republicans for their part have promised to repeal reform they view as "harmful" to the economy. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who called the law a tax increase on the middle class, vowed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act his first day in office stating, "What the Court did not do on its last day in session, I will do on my first day if elected President of the United States. And that is I will act to repeal Obamacare."
While the court's decision is a boon to the Obama administration, the ruling could energize voters who oppose the law to back Mitt Romney in the 2012 election. Evidence of this enthusiasm can already be seen as Romney's campaign raised over $300,000 dollars within the first hour after the decision was read. Public support for reform remains mostly negative -- two-thirds of voters wanted the individual mandate to be struck down.
The court's assertion that the mandate is really just a tax could provide Republicans with ammunition to attack the President in the months ahead. First, it negates the claim made by the President in the lead-up to passage of the law that the mandate was not a tax. The court's classification of the mandate as a tax could also impact how reform is financed and how many people get coverage.
Because the mandate is now an optional tax, many people may think they’ll be better off paying the penalty fee rather than paying for an insurance plan with high premiums. This could increase the overall cost of health care reform and could also mean fewer people receiving coverage as they opt to pay the penalty rather than purchase an insurance plan. The court's decision to rule Medicaid expansion unconstitutional also means that less people may receive coverage under the current legislation. If this is truly the case, the bottom line is this: less people receive coverage while the cost to the American taxpayer increases.
Whether you agree or disagree with the Supreme Court's decision, the upcoming election will give you a chance to voice your opinion on the future of health care reform.
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"Transcript, Video of Obama’s Remarks on Health-Law Ruling." WSJ.com. Wall Street Journal, 28 June 2012. Web. 28 June 2012. <http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2012/06/28/transcript-of-obamas-remarks-on-health-law-ruling/?mod=WSJBlog&mod=WSJ_Politics_Blog>.
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