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The U.S. Supreme Court Reviews the Affordable Health Care Act

by Jennie Wood

In late March 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed the constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care Act, also called Obamacare. The review focused on the individual mandate, the act's requirement that all citizens buy health insurance or pay a fine. Republicans challenged the mandate, saying that it was an unconstitutional expansion of the federal government's power. The Obama administration insisted that the individual mandate was needed to fix significant flaws in insurance coverage and to ensure that everyone receives healthcare regardless of pre-existing health conditions.

The court held three days of hearings before the judges reached a decision, but the verdict was not released until June 2012. It was one of the biggest cases reviewed by the Supreme Court in years. The outcome would influence the future of national health care coverage as well as the 2012 presidential election. It would also have a lasting effect on Obama's legacy because the act was his most significant first term domestic initiative.

On June 28, 2012, the Supreme Court announced its verdict, upholding the individual mandate. The Supreme Court ruled that the fine attached to the individual mandate was a tax that the federal government had a right to impose. Therefore, the mandate was not unconstitutional and could survive. The ruling was a victory for President Obama and a loss for the 26 states that sued over the individual mandate.

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