John Commins, June 28, 2012

A sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court Thursday upheld key provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including the contentious individual mandate that requires people to either purchase health insurance or pay a penalty.

Healthcare leaders say economic realities impel reform. The ruling will have no short-term effect on healthcare's soaring costs.

On a 5-4 vote, with Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the majority, the high court ruled that the individual mandate violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, but fell within the taxing authority of Congress.

"The individual mandate… does not regulate existing commercial activity. It instead compels individuals to become active in commerce by purchasing a product, on the ground that their failure to do so affects interstate commerce," Roberts wrote for the majority.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.


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