Health Care Decision

On Thursday, June 28, 2012, the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in the case of National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius.  On a 5-4 vote, the Court ruled that while the individual mandate was not constitutional under the Commerce Clause or the Necessary and Proper Clause, it is Constitutional under Congress's authority to levy a tax.  In short, they upheld the individual mandate and the entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. 

The website SCOTUS Blog offered this plain-English interpretation of what the ruling means: “In Plain English: The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn't comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.”

This page serves as a resource about the Court's decision for interested constituents.

Rep. Todd Young Statement on the Court's ruling

“Because of the negative effect on our economy and job creation, I’m disappointed that the so-called individual mandate requiring every American to purchase health insurance will stand.  However, I am pleased that the Court has affirmed that our federal government is constitutionally limited in its ability to regulate Americans’ lives.

"Despite the Court’s decision, there still is hope for those of us who regard this law as bad public policy.  The 2010 law most Americans know as Obamacare remains unpopular with a large majority of Hoosiers who demand the law be repealed or improved.  While it’s true that rapidly rising health care costs should be dealt with, Obamacare fails to control them and interferes with the doctor-patient relationship.   During this Congress, I have already cast 30 votes to repeal, replace or defund all or parts of the law.  Moving forward, I will continue to support implementing policies to allow health insurance to be purchased across state lines; to improve our costly medical malpractice system; to make health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts more prevalent; and a number of other proposals that will lower costs and increase access to care without adding to the federal bureaucracy."  –Rep. Todd Young (R-IN9)

The Court's ruling

Click here to download a copy of the Supreme Court's opinion, including both majority and dissenting views.

What's next?

Now that the Court has ruled, Congress must begin taking action to pass legislation that actually lowers costs while respecting the doctor-patient relationship.  The system that was in place before Obamacare wasn't working, but Obamacare itself failed to implement solutions to lower costs.  I've been pushing House leadership to develop a plan to address--at a bare minimum--the following solutions to lower costs and reform our system:

  • Allow health insurance to be purchased across state lines
  • Expand the use of health savings accounts
  • Ensure coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions
  • Enact medical liability reform
  • Reform our Medicare system away from a fee-for-service model to give seniors more options in their coverage

What do you think?

I want to know what you think about the ruling, and your solutions for expanding health care coverage and lowering costs.  Use the form below to send me an e-mail.

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Related reading

Supreme Court Decision (06/28/12 07:28 AM PST)