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Court's Verdict on Health-Care Reform Holds Surprises, Legal Experts Say
Date:6/28/2012

all his political capital on something that was unconstitutional."

And for conservatives, "there is no new precedent that expands Congress' power" when it comes to the Medicaid provision, Field added.

"[The Justices are] saying that Congress can expand Medicaid and can offer states a carrot to expand it, but they cannot follow the carrot with a stick that would take away their entire Medicaid programs if they don't agree to the expansion," Field explained. "The carrot is the 90 percent to 100 percent of the expansion that Congress will pay. However, the law had said that if the states don't go along with that they could lose funding for their entire Medicaid program. Now that wouldn't happen. The worse that would happen to them is their programs will stay as they are."

Gregory Magarian, a professor at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, believed that the entire law would pass by a narrow margin, but on a different basis.

"The result is what I was expecting on the mandate, but the way they got to it is not at all what I was expecting," Magarian said. "It sounds to me that the court was trying to be as cautious as it could in wading into the constitutional issues. What it found was the narrowest way to uphold the mandate and therefore uphold the rest of the Act. I think the result is the right result under my best understanding of the law so I'm very happy with what the court did. But it really is a curveball in terms of how they got there."

So, is this the end of the battle over health care reform? Probably not: the fight may simply switch venues, the experts said.

Today's decision by the Supreme Court settled the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, and now "Congress is free to change the provisions of the statute that the Court has said is constitutional," according to Landers.

"Congress could repeal the statute, revise the statute, or reduce, or decline to appropriate funds for the various prog
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