Healthcare Decision Handed Down

Justices save the Affordable Care Act; retain individual mandate

Published on: Jun 28, 2012

The Supreme Court ruled today on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, upholding the constitutionality of the law.

The individual mandate requiring everyone to purchase health insurance was upheld. The court determined that individuals not willing to comply with the mandate could pay a tax instead.

The Medicaid expansion provision was also upheld, provided that states do not lose existing Medicaid funding. States can, however, lose new funding if they do not expand coverage.

According to the Center for Rural Affairs, the Affordable Care Act provisions are particularly applicable to rural populations due to their unique demographic and economic situation.

Justices save the Affordable Care Act; retain individual mandate with a tax stipulation.
Justices save the Affordable Care Act; retain individual mandate with a tax stipulation.

The center also said that 6.8 million rural seniors, 3 million rural children, and 8.9 million privately insured rural residents have benefitted from the existing law.

Already, legislators and farm groups have weighed in on the announcement.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman explained the need for affordable rural healthcare, but said that the Farm Bureau is still "concerned" that insurance mandates will impose expenses on small businesses owners and farmers that could create financial hardship.

"We believe one of the primary goals of the health care reform should be to reduce costs for participants," Stallman said. "The plan reviewed by the Supreme Court would impose a new financial burden on our members."

Though the Farm Bureau has called for additional action to address remaining concerns about the health care bill, National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson commended the Supreme Court's decision, citing improved insurance affordability as a benefit.

"The ACA contains significant, necessary reforms that help all Americans, including those who are self-employed and purchasing expensive care from the individual market, afford insurance and the preventive care they need," he said.

He said today's ruling and the ACA close the prescription drug coverage "donut hole."

Yet, Republicans like Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), came out quickly to oppose the ruling.

"Now we have a multi-trillion dollar bill which threatens the budgets of our federal and state governments as well as families nationwide. A ruling that the law is constitutional doesn't mean it is wise or that we have to keep it on the books," he said.