FROM WIRE REPORTS
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the federal health care law, including the individual mandate, saying Congress can impose it as a tax. The Medicaid provision of the law is limited, but not invalidated. Florida had challenged the law.
The decision means the historic overhaul will continue to go into effect over the next several years, affecting the way that countless Americans receive and pay for their personal medical care. The ruling also handed President Obama a campaign-season victory in rejecting arguments that Congress went too far in requiring most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty.
Chief Justice John Roberts announced the court’s judgment that allows the law to go forward with its aim of covering more than 30 million uninsured Americans.
The court found problems with the law’s expansion of Medicaid, but even there said the expansion could proceed as long as the federal government does not threaten to withhold states’ entire Medicaid allotment if they don’t take part in the law’s extension.
The court’s four liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, joined Roberts in the outcome.
Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.
Stocks of hospital companies rose sharply Thursday after initial reports said the Supreme Court had upheld the individual insurance requirement in Obama’s health care overhaul.
HCA Holdings stock rose 8 percent, and Community Health Systems stock also rose 8 percent.
Stocks of big insurance companies dropped sharply when the ruling came out shortly after 10 a.m., then climbed back somewhat. They were down about 1 percent, roughly the same as stocks in the broader market.
Stocks of drug companies and medical device makers were also slightly lower.
Black conservatives with the Project 21 leadership network issued a statement shortly after the ruling was announced, stating that they are disappointed by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Project 21 spokeswoman Dr. Elaina George, a board-certified otolaryngologist, said: “By upholding ObamaCare, the Supreme Court ignored the Constitution. It placed corporate interests and profits, along with government control, above the needs of doctors and patients. This decision virtually guarantees the destruction of the doctor-patient relationship, and – along with it – individualized health care, innovation and access while it perpetuates the worst aspects of our medical system.”
George added, “Because of the mandate, Americans will be forced to pay for a system that will increase costs for patients, remove health care decisions from both the doctor and the patient and lead to rationing. It changes health care as we know it into a system based on one-size-fits-all, cost-controlled and conveyor belt socialized medicine.”
The News Service of Florida and the Associated Press were used in compiling this report.
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