The justices determined that the federal government does have the constitutional authority to require most Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a fine. The individual mandate is constitutional as a tax.
Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative nominated by President George W. Bush, joined with justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan in the 5-4 decision.
Gov. Chris Christie expressed disappointment with the Court’s ruling.
“I’ve been clear from the very beginning that I do not believe a one-size-fits-all health care program works for the entire country and that each governor should have the ability to make decisions about what works best for their state,” Christie said. “Today’s Supreme Court decision is disappointing and I still believe this is the wrong approach for the people of New Jersey who should be able to make their own judgments about health care. Most importantly, the Supreme Court is confirming what we knew all along about this law – it is a tax on middle class Americans.”
Rep. Leonard Lance pledged to continue efforts to repeal the health care law.
“The legal decision rendered today should not overshadow the fact that the health care law is poor public policy. Increased regulations, Washington mandates and higher taxes are bad policies especially during economically difficult times,” said Lance (R-NJ-7.) The health care law as it currently stands will stifle innovation, hurt job creation and has the potential ultimately to ration health care in this country.”
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg took a different view.
“This is a victory for the people, and makes clear that help is on the way for 30 million Americans who need access to affordable health insurance,” said Lautenberg (D-NJ.) “Middle class families are struggling to afford health insurance and Obamacare will throw them a lifeline. It is time for the Republicans to stop the politically inspired attacks and work with us to extend this law’s help to as many people as possible. With this ruling, Americans finally will have the peace of mind to know that their families will be taken care of when they get sick. President Obama has courageously stood up to false, political attacks, and his hard work was vindicated today.”
“Now that the Court has upheld this law, we must get to work to implement the provisions of the [Affordable Care Act] here in New Jersey,” said state Sen. Joseph F. Vitale (D-Middlesex), chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “I look forward to working with the members of the Legislature from both sides of the aisle, as well as with the Administration, to determine a solution for the health care exchange component of the law that will provide New Jersey residents with access to health insurance that they can afford.”
New Jersey Policy Perspective senior policy analyst Raymond Castro said, “All New Jerseyans scored a major victory today. For the first time, everyone now has a right to high quality, affordable comprehensive health coverage and will no longer have to worry about going bankrupt to pay for medical bills.”
The individual mandate will not take effect until 2014, but many provisions of the healthcare reform law have already gone into effect such as free wellness exams for seniors and allowing children to remain on their parents’ health insurance policies until they turn 26.
The court’s ruling is available online at http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/11-393c3a2.pdf
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