Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld President Obama’s healthcare law in its entirety, including the controversial individual mandate. The Court’s decision was unexpected by most as was who cast the deciding vote, Chief Justice John Roberts.
The decision is a major victory for President Obama as the Affordable Healthcare Act, or Obamacare, is his key policy achievement as president.
In a 5-4 ruling based on the power of Congress to impose taxes, the nation’s highest court preserved the law’s “individual mandate” requiring that most Americans obtain health insurance by 2014 or pay a tax.
The justices also preserved, with some changes, a provision of the law expanding the Medicaid health insurance program for the poor. Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, a Bush appointee, wrote the decision for the majority.
The decision stunned Republicans who hoped the law would be overturned.
In a statement following the court’s ruling, the President urged politicians to move past the debate. “The highest court in the land has now spoken. We will continue to implement this law and we’ll work together to improve on it where we can,” Obama said.
The decision is another blow to the Romney campaign. Romney now has to campaign on repealing the national healthcare law that is based, in large part, to his own policy which he touted heavily as governor.
Earlier in the week, the court’s nullification of most of Arizona’s immigration law put Romney on the defensive because he made the Arizona law a centerpiece of his primary campaign.
Despite the court’s ruling, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal says the state will not move forward on major healthcare issues yet.
“The taxpayers of the state of Georgia will be paying as federal taxpayers to support the expansions of other states,” Deal said. “And if ours are excluded, that’s certainly a question we would have to ask if that is prudent.”
Georgia’s Senators released statements in reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision.
“I am sorely disappointed that the Court has upheld the individual mandate as a legal tax on the American people,” Isakson said.
Chambliss’s statement addressed the tax aspect as well. “This law adds new taxes on an already overtaxed population, and adds regulation to an already over-regulated industry.”
Libertarian Presidential nominee, Governor Gary Johnson released a statement critical of the court’s decision.
“It has been clear for a while that we need a new President and a new Congress. Now it appears we need a new Supreme Court. Whether the Court chooses to call the individual mandate a tax or anything else, allowing it to stand is a truly disturbing decision,”
Georgia must still wrestle with the issue of expanding Medicaid, which will be another polarizing political debate.