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Supreme Court Backs Much of Controversial Health Reform Law
Date:6/29/2012

By Lisa Esposito and Karen Pallarito
HealthDay Reporters

THURSDAY, June 28 (HealthDay News) -- Surprising many legal scholars, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld on Thursday the constitutionality of most of the controversial health reform law that requires almost all Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty in the form of a tax.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the signature legislative achievement of President Barack Obama's administration, has been fiercely debated since its inception in March 2010. On one side of the argument have been many Democrats, who view the law as the first substantive legal attempt to greatly expand the number of insured Americans while improving health care and attempting to contain medical costs. On the other side have been many Republicans, who view the measure as an unprecedented intrusion into the private lives of citizens by telling them they have to buy a certain product -- in this case, health insurance.

Chief Justice John Roberts announced the court's complicated 5-to-4 decision that allows the law to proceed with its goal of covering more than 30 million uninsured Americans.

The Associated Press reported that the court did have some concerns with the law's expansion of Medicaid, the government-funded insurance program for low-income Americans. But the court said the expansion could go forward as long as the federal government doesn't threaten to withhold states' entire Medicaid allotment if they don't take part in the law's extension, the news service said.

The court's four liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, joined Roberts in the decision. Conservative justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas voted against the law.

The law set in motion a series of reforms designed to extend health coverage to more than 30 million uninsured Americans. It seeks t
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