Roberts’ vote sways Supreme Court to uphold Obama’s health care overhaul

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“The court’s decision brings into focus the choice the American people have about the direction of our country,” he said. “The president and his party believe in massive government intrusions that increase costs and take decisions away from patients.”

The House bill is unlikely to succeed. The Democrat-controlled Senate has rejected 30 other House attempts at full or partial repeal.

Law moves forward

Mr. Obama said that while he is willing to tweak the law to improve it, the court affirmed the goal of his law - to make sure that Americans have the means to pay for their health care.

“I know there will be a lot of discussion today about the politics of all this, about who won and who lost,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s how these things tend to be viewed here in Washington.

“But that discussion completely misses the point,” he said. “Whatever the politics, today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country.”

The law requires states to set up health care exchanges and offers federal subsidies so the poor and middle class can purchase insurance, and it expands Medicaid so more low-income families are eligible for government-run health care.

It expanded prescription-drug coverage for some beneficiaries under Medicare, the federal health care program for the nation’s seniors, and offered incentives for small businesses to provide insurance for their employees.

The law also requires insurers to cover pre-existing conditions and to allow parents to keep their children on their policies up to age 26 - and in exchange it requires most Americans to obtain coverage or pay a penalty. Health insurers said they needed the influx of young, mostly healthy people in order to cover the costs associated with expanded coverage.

Some states, particularly those under full Republican control, had been counting on the law to be overturned and had taken few strides toward setting up their exchanges.

Mandate upheld

All eyes have been on the court ever since the justices announced they would hear major constitutional challenges against the Affordable Care Act, after months of courtroom battles over the 2010 law.

The individual mandate to buy insurance or pay the penalty was at the heart of the struggle, marking the first time the federal government tried to require all Americans to buy a particular good or service.

While opponents said it violated individual freedom, the administration said that because everyone consumes health care at some point, government can control when they begin to pay for it.

The justices held a marathon three-day series of oral arguments in March and then retreated behind closed doors to deliberate and write their opinions.

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