ObamaCare–A LEGAL TAX!

As you likely know, a majority of the states, including Florida, and numerous organizations and individual persons, had filed actions in federal court challenging the constitutionality of some or all of the elements of Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). This morning the U.S Supreme Court made clear that the individual mandate in the law and thus the law itself, is a  constitutional TAX. (See NOTE #1 Below)

The court did find the Medicaid expansion provision violates the Constitution, but…the impact of that finding is unclear at this time and may depend on implementation decisions, or lack thereof, by the various states.

On the  issue of whether the individual mandate requiring citizens to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty by 2014 violates the Constitution, the court majority said it is valid under the federal government’s taxing powers.

Providing some fauna for those who opposed the law, Chief Justice John Roberts issued the ruling and cast a vote with the liberal justices in favor of the mandate and specifically called it a “…valid tax.”

The Roberts opinion said the government cannot force citizens to buy health insurance but can impose a tax on those who do not have insurance.  He said it is not the court’s role to decide the wisdom of the tax.

Roberts also said…“The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain in­dividuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax. Be­cause the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.”

President Obama repeatedly asserted that his Affordable Care Act was not a tax; a position he maintained up until it became expedient for his attorneys to argue it was a tax in order to meet constitutional muster.

It’s a long opinion and not one easily deciphered, but…those interested in details can read the entire 193 page decision here.

Insurance Commissioner, Kevin McCarty, issued the following statement:

“Our Office has previously expressed concerns about several provisions of the Affordable Care Act and the potential for detrimental impacts on the availability and affordability of health insurance. Today, the United States Supreme Court’s ruling affirmed the substance of the Affordable Care Act.

With the affirmation of the Affordable Care Act, I remain concerned about the potential for increased health insurance premiums and continued disruption to the stability of the marketplace for many Floridians. Nevertheless, we will work with the Florida Legislature and Gov. Scott to implement the Supreme Court’s decision and develop an implementation strategy that minimizes market disruption and allows Florida’s health insurers and HMOs to continue to provide coverage in our state.

I would like to commend Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi for their diligent efforts on behalf of Florida’s citizens.”

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NOTE #1: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), requires individuals not covered by employer- or government-sponsored insurance plans to maintain minimal essential health insurance coverage or pay a penalty unless exempted for religious beliefs or financial hardship, a provision commonly referred to as the individual mandate. The Act also reforms certain aspects of the private health insurance industry and public health insurance programs, increases insurance coverage of pre-existing conditions, expands access to insurance to 30 million Americans and increases projected national medical spending (whilst reducing the deficit and slowing health inflation) while lowering projected Medicare spending.

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