The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday morning narrowly upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), ruling that the individual mandate to buy health insurance – the key provision of the health-care law – is constitutional under Congress’s taxing authority.
The Court’s landmark 5-4 decision ends two years of legal uncertainty and means that implementation of the 906-page law will proceed.
At the heart of the PPACA is the requirement that all Americans – with a few exceptions – must obtain health insurance before the year 2014 or pay a financial penalty with their tax returns.
The ruling did, however, restrict one other key provision: the expansion of Medicaid, which is the federal government’s health insurance program for low-income and sick people. The ruling said the federal government could not penalize states that opt out of the expansion by withdrawing their existing Medicaid funding.
In a statement issued after the ruling, American Hospital Association President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock discussed how the ruling impacts hospitals. “The decision means that hospitals now have much-needed clarity to continue on their path toward transformation,” he said. “But transforming the delivery of health care will take much more than the strike of a gavel or the stroke of a pen. It calls for the entire health-care community to continue to work together, along with patients and purchasers, to implement better coordinated, high-quality care.”
Click here to access a copy of the Court’s 193-page decision.