Supreme Court hands Obama 'victory' on health

President Barack Obama claimed a "victory" for all Americans after the Supreme Court upheld his reforms to extend health insurance to another 32 million US citizens.

Obama said the ruling, which prescribes how health care will be delivered in the United States for decades to come, went beyond politics as he urged a divided America to get behind a law that was in the interests of all.

"Whatever the politics, today's decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives are more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court's decision to uphold it," Obama said.

"I'm as confident as ever that when we look back five years from now or 10 years from now, or 20 years from now, we will be better off because we had the courage to pass this law, and keep moving forward."

But Republicans, choking at the very thought of endorsing Obama's signature domestic achievement just five months out from a tightly-contested presidential election, vowed to tear down the law.

"'Obamacare' was bad policy yesterday. It's bad policy today," said Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney, vowing to repeal on day one a law he has painted as government overreach, costly and wrong-headed.

But Obama said an America struggling to emerge from a painful recession, with a ballooning budget deficit and stubbornly high unemployment, could ill afford to refight old political battles.

"The highest court in the land has now spoken," he said. "With today's announcement, it is time for us to move forward to implement and where necessary improve on this law."

The key provision that underpinned the overhaul, an "individual mandate" requiring almost every US citizen from 2014 to take out health insurance or be subject to a fine, was upheld by a nail-biting 5-4 vote.

John Roberts, the conservative-leaning chief justice often viewed as a bete noire by Democrats, was the unlikely hero for liberals as the key swing vote.

Writing the majority opinion in a landmark ruling that could alter the perception of the Supreme Court, Roberts said the law was constitutional as the punishment for not paying the mandate could be seen as a tax.

"The federal government does not have the power to order people to buy health insurance," Roberts wrote. "The federal government does have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance."

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a stinging dissent on behalf of the four other conservative-leaning justices. "In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety," it said.

Despite the worst fears of the Obama administration, the only restriction to the sweeping reforms was on the provision to expand coverage to 16 million more poor Americans through the federal Medicaid program.

The court upheld the clause but ordered the government to withdraw its threat to withhold federal funding from states that do not comply.

The ruling offers new ammunition to Republicans trying to fire up the conservative base and get out the vote in November, but it was also a huge win for Obama that boosts his claim to be a transformative president.

"It is as big an act as killing Osama bin Laden in terms of giving his presidency a temporary boost," Stephen Ryan, former general counsel of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, told AFP.

Two years after Obama signed into law the act to insure most of the 50 million uninsured Americans and prevent coverage from being refused on the basis of patients' medical histories, its fate lay in the hands of just six men and three women.

There were cheers outside the court and across the country from liberals and Democrats, for whom this issue has been a burning crusade for decades.

"We are jumping for joy," said Julie Walters, a 35-year-old recruiter in Novato, California whose three-year-old Violet has a rare genetic condition that causes severe epilepsy.

"It means we can live our life not in fear," Walters, whose daughter could have lost coverage due to her pre-existing condition if the law had been struck down, told AFP.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, an integral part of her husband Bill's unsuccessful effort as president to pass health care reform in the 1990s, told journalists in Saint Petersburg she was "excited" at the news.

But "Obamacare" opponents were incensed.

"The entire law must be repealed," said Matt Smith of Catholic Advocate, a group outraged by the law's requirement for organizations to include contraception in their employee health plans.

In another sign of the bitter political climate, Obama's top justice official, Attorney General Eric Holder, was held in contempt Thursday by the House of Representatives for withholding documents related to a botched gun-running operation.

The White House dismissed the move -- the first time in history such a censure had happened -- as a "transparently political stunt."

Although the United States is the world's richest nation, it is the only industrialized democracy that does not provide health care coverage to all its citizens.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Philippines accuses China of turning water cannon on its fishing boats

    Filipino activists denounced China's coast guard on Tuesday for turning water cannon on Philippine fishing boats in disputed waters, near where hundreds of Filipino and American Marines landed on a beach in a mock assault. The presidential palace in Manila said China's coast guard used water cannon on Monday to drive away a group of Filipino fishermen at Scarborough Shoal, damaging some of their wooden boats. …

  • U.S. says if China used water cannons on Philippine boats, would be provocative'

    The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday that if reports that China used water cannon son Philippine fishing boats in disputed waters are accurate, it would be a provocative step. Filipino activists have accused China's coast guard of turning water cannons on civilian boats in the disputed area on Monday. …

  • Pacmania sweeps Philippines ahead of Mayweather clash
    Pacmania sweeps Philippines ahead of Mayweather clash

    Manny Pacquiao's face is on shirts, dolls and postage stamps, his life story is playing in movie houses and millions are getting ready to party as the Philippine boxing hero's "fight of the century" nears. Pacmania is sweeping the Southeast Asian nation of 100 million people ahead of the May 2 Las Vegas bout against unbeaten Floyd Mayweather to decide who is the best boxer of their generation. Of course, it's the fight of the century," Manila film producer Lucky Blanco told AFP. …

  • ‘Racist remark vs Pinays not reflective of HK sentiment’
    ‘Racist remark vs Pinays not reflective of HK sentiment’

    The Philippine consulate general in Hong Kong believes that the “racist” statement of legislator Regina Ip against Filipina domestic helpers in Hong Kong is not reflective of the general sentiments of the Hong Kong community. Hong Kong is home to more than 173,00 Filipinos working mostly as household service workers. “They have left their loved ones back home to earn a decent living taking care of Hong Kong families. This, in turn, has engendered positive impact on both the quality of life …

  • ‘Pacmania’ sweeping the nation
    ‘Pacmania’ sweeping the nation

    Manny Pacquiao’s face is on shirts, dolls and postage stamps, his life story is playing in movie houses, and millions are getting ready to party as the Philippine boxing hero’s “fight of the century” nears. Pacmania is sweeping the nation of 100 million people ahead of the May 2 Las Vegas bout against unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr. to decide who is the best boxer of their generation. …

  • House committee to put Bangsamoro police under PNP
    House committee to put Bangsamoro police under PNP

    The House ad hoc committee on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will put police forces in the envisioned new autonomous Muslim region under the Philippine National Police (PNP), and not under the regional chief minister. “We will delete the provision in the draft BBL giving the chief minister operational, administrative and disciplinary control over police forces in the region,” Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, committee chairman, said in a television interview. He said under …

  • Phl to seek more US military aid
    Phl to seek more US military aid

    The Philippines said yesterday it would soon ask the United States for more military equipment and training to build its defenses, as it faces Chinese “aggressiveness” in disputed waters. As hundreds of Filipino and American Marines simulated an amphibious assault to reclaim territory from invaders during annual war games, Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang said he was drafting a “wish list” for US aid. Catapang said the Philippines would ask for “equipment and training” when …

  • Senate bill seeks planting of trees in parks, schools
    Senate bill seeks planting of trees in parks, schools

    A bill in the Senate is seeking to require the planting of trees in parks, school grounds, vacant lots and other urban areas nationwide. Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara said Bill No. 2566, the Greening Act of 2015, supports and complements the government’s National Greening Program to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares of land from 2011 to 2016. “The Philippines was once known for its vast and lush forests,”he said. The Philippines was also named one of the world’s 10 most threatened …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options