The most controversial clause of the Affordable Care Act has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, the court announced Thursday.
The group of bills aimed at overhauling the American health care system was signed into law by President Barack Obama in March 2010. Since then, 26 states filed suit against the act, stating that provisions in it required most uninsured Americans to purchase health insurance were unconstitutional.
According to the Washington Post, the Supreme Court agreed that the mandate itself is unconstitutional, but that it is within the rights of Congress to tax individuals for not having health care. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion.
The ruling also upheld a portion of the bill that asks states to expand their Medicaid coverage, but said that the federal government cannot without Medicaid funding for states that choose not to comply.
Congressman John Dingell, an ardent supporter of the act who represents Michigan's 15th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, applauded the ruling.
“We have a long-term effective solution to the health care crisis in this country," Dingell said in a statement. "And, now, I am proud to say that with the agreement of the Supreme Court, we can continue on with the business of making sure Americans have access to the best medicines, hospitals and medical professionals in the world.
"I know my father who started this fight is smiling from up above.”
Chelsea Community Hospital CEO Nancy Graebner said the hospital is pleased with the Supreme Court's ruling.
"With a belief that access and coverage for all is both a moral and practical imperative, Chelsea Community Hospital is pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision, based on an initial read of the ruling. While we do not believe the Affordable Care Act to be perfect, it advances the creation of a health system that works for everyone," Graebner said.
"Chelsea Community Hospital’s core mission is to provide exceptional health care to our communities. With that in mind, we look forward to the advantages that the Affordable Care Act offers to those we serve," she continued. "The individual insurance requirement is an essential element in the successful transformation of our nation’s health care system because it will enhance access to regular and preventive care in the appropriate setting, reduce inefficient use of health care resources, and enable health care providers like us to provide more coordinated, integrated and truly patient-centered care."
State Rep.Mark Ouimet, R-Scio Township, said the ruling sets a bad precedent for future legislation.
"The Supreme Court's ruling on Obamacare is an unfortunate decision for Michigan's middle-class families. I am concerned about the effects this will have on the people of this state, their budgets and their healthcare decisions," Ouimet said. "While today's ruling is incredibly disappointing for all of us, I will now do everything I can to find the best path forward for this state and protect Michigan residents."
"The state Legislature, will consider every option that makes the lives of Michigan residents better and prevents the federal government from micromanaging our health-care decisions," Ouimet continued. "Our ultimate goal is to find a system that works for Michigan and keeps the people of this state healthy and free."
Ouimet said the Legislature is currently working on a bill that would give Michigan insurance providers the freedom to participate in a health care exchange, but would also ensure they could sell their products outside of an exchange.
"We'll explore the legislation further, as well as other options in the coming weeks and months," he said.
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