In what many have called a stunning decision, the Supreme Court has upheld the federal Affordable Care Act by a 5-4 vote. The decision was stunning because of Chief Justice John Roberts, who voted to affirm the law with the courts 4 liberal members. Reports indicate that Roberts vacillated and held off a strong push by the court’s conservative members to vote with them.
It is important to note, that what the majority agreed to is not that Congress can use its power to regulate commerce between the states by requiring everyone to buy health insurance. Rather, the majority agreed that the penalty someone must pay if they refuse to buy insurance is a tax that Congress can impose using its power. Once that was affirmed, everything else went along with it.
Of course, the decision will not put the issue to bed. Republicans in Congress are even more determined to repeal the law and both sides will clearly make it a top campaign issue in the months ahead. In the meantime, the rest of us will have to deal with the fact that the law was upheld and its provisions will continue to be implemented.
With that in mind, the information that was made available two years ago is still very relevant. For a refresher see this timeline that was prepared by the Kaiser Family Foundation and below is a link to a memo done by National League of Cities staff. The League will continue to provide additional information as it becomes available through our website.
Arnold Weinfeld is Director of Strategic Initiatives and Federal Affairs for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 or by e-mail.