By Sharon Gordon
The recent Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision which upheld President Obama’s health care law, the Affordable Care Act has been hailed as historic. “This is a win for Obama.
This is his bill. There’s not really any doubt in people’s minds, that it belongs to him,” said Julia Clark, vice president Ipsos Public Affairs. “For 75 years Democratic Presidents have tried unsuccessfully to create a nationwide insurance system that would provide health care for millions of Americans,” said Jamaican national, Carlyle McKetty, “With this decision in his favour, President Obama raised the ante in his bid to return to the White House for four more years.”
Many legal scholars are now placing President Obama among the “top five presidents” in the history of the United States for his ground breaking accomplishments. Being applauded is Chief Justice Roberts for joining with the liberal jurists on the bench Justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagen and putting the nation’s interest ahead of partisan politics.
“A bold move by the Chief Justice,” said political pundit, Sam Evans, who migrated from Jamaica 25 years ago. “This is a game changer for the Obama campaign as they prepare for the November elections.” In the ground breaking decision, Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the individual mandate is not a “penalty” as the health care law identified it, but a tax and therefore a constitutional application of Congress’s taxation power.
Says Evans, “It was sheer brilliance on the part of Chief Justice Roberts to get a majority to uphold the law and thus assign the opinion to himself as the Chief Justice.”
Evans pointed out that by joining with Justices, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagen, on what was a critical portion of the opinion, the narrow question of whether the mandate was indeed a tax although the Obama Administration and the Congress denied that was, “Chief Justice Roberts has sheltered the court from liberal criticism.”
“Chief Justice Roberts has left his imprint on the court,” says nurse Janice Clifton, a Jamaican who has worked in healthcare for more than three decades. “He seized the moment, crossed ideological lines and wrote a decision that validated ‘Obamacare’.” According to Chief Justice Roberts, the fine amounted to a tax that the government had the power to impose.
It was on this basis that the mandate survived. Guyanese born, Mark Coombs agrees, “This ruling has left many with a sense of hope which will probably work in the President’s favour as voters go to the polls in November,” says the hospital administrator, “There is a victory dance taking place as many Obamacare supporters see the day when universal health care is the law of the land.”
Nonetheless, the debate over health care remains far from over especially in light of the upcoming presidential elections in November. Mitt Romney has vowed that he will repeal this law if elected. His fellow Republicans have vowed to carry on their fight against the law which they see as an infringement on the rights of individuals.
The decision did in fact limit one major portion of the law, the expansion of Medicaid, the government’s health insurance program for low-income and sick people.
The health care law seeks to provide insurance to more than 30 million Americans through the expansion of Medicaid and by providing subsidies to help lower and middle income Americans purchase private coverage.
“This will create insurance exchanges for those who buy individual policies,” says Sam Evans, “It will prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions.”
It was in March 2010 that Congress passed what has become known as “ObamaCare” a sweeping legislation that was set up to create a nationwide insurance system that would significantly reduce the number of Americans without coverage. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the law will cost the government about $938 billion over 10 years and will reduce the federal deficit by $138 billion over a decade.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who voted in favor of the health care law, says the Courts ruling represented a victory of Americans. “This decision is a victory for the American people. With this ruling, Americans will benefit from critical patient protections, lower costs for the middle class, more coverage for families, and greater accountability for the insurance industry,” she said.