In a 5-4 US Supreme Court decision released on Thursday, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined with the nominally liberal wing of the high court to uphold key provisions of the Obama administration-backed health care legislation.
The decision maintains the pro-corporate provisions of the bill, including the “individual mandate” to purchase insurance from private insurers. At the same time, the court undermined the key constitutional arguments used to support corporate regulations. It also ruled that the federal government cannot withdraw existing Medicaid funding from states that decide not to participate in an expansion of eligibility for the program.
The ruling on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, passed into law in March 2010, was predictably hailed by President Obama. Coming five months before the presidential election, he said it was a “victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure.” Congressional Republicans and presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, meanwhile, vowed to work to repeal the legislation in November.
The ruling was also trumpeted by liberal publications as a great victory for health care and for ordinary people. In reality, the decision upholds legislation whose main purpose is to cut costs for corporations and the government, while slashing billions of dollars from Medicare and other social programs.
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