Hands down, the biggest health story of year was the June 28 ruling by the Supreme Court upholding the Affordable Care Act. The background: President Obama signed the bill in 2010 but conservatives detest it and challenged a provision in the law, called the "individual mandate," that requires everyone to buy health insurance or pay a fine. The individual mandate is the core of the law, and if the court struck it down, the whole Obamacare package would have likely collapsed. However, on a five-four vote, the court ruled that the individual mandate was constitutional, citing Congress's power to levy taxes.
Among the many facets of the Affordable Care Act, the law allows young adults to stay on their parents' insurance policies until age 26, expands the access to free preventive care and screenings, and forbids insurance companies from refusing to cover or charging excessive premiums for people with pre-existing medical conditions. It also forbids insurance companies from placing a lifetime limit on coverage, expands access to Medicaid and establishes insurance exchanges in states to allow people to buy individual insurance policies.
The ruling had a bigger influence on the future shape of healthcare than Obama's reelection because, even if Obama had lost, it would have been nearly impossible to repeal the law, as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he would do. Of course, Obama's reelection means full steam ahead on healthcare reform. It's here to stay, folks.
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