The Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate is a victory for all 311 million Americans.
The Court's decision means 1.3 million Virginians with pre-existing health conditions, 140,000 of them in the 11th Congressional District, will never again risk denial of health insurance coverage. It means that more than one-quarter million small businesses across the nation, and nearly 600 such businesses in the 11th District, will receive tax credits to cover 35 percent of the cost of purchasing insurance for their employees.
The ruling means more than 837,000 Virginians receiving Medicare - seniors and the disabled -- including 56,000 of them in the 11th District, will receive free preventative services including colonoscopies and mammograms. It means nearly 3 million Virginians, more than 330,000 in the 11th District, with cancer or other chronic conditions will never again have to worry about arbitrary annual or lifetime limits on coverage. And it means that young adults will be able to remain on their parents' health insurance policies until age 26.
I applaud Chief Justice Roberts for protecting some vestige of integrity for the Court by writing the majority opinion. He broke with his ideological brethren on the Court, ignored the partisan rancor, upheld the Constitution, and cast the historic deciding vote to preserve quality health care for current and future generations of Americans. Chief Justice Roberts has guaranteed his place in history books as a jurist who, in this instance, put the law above politics.
With today's decision, we can move forward to rein in a health care costs that were on a non-sustainable trajectory.
However, I am troubled by the Court's decision to weaken the Medicaid expansion provisions. It could set a dangerous precedent with respect to the ability of the federal government to use leverage in all kinds of endeavors, including education, transportation, and the environment.
And I am concerned that the Court fractured for the first time on what had been for more than 150 years a clear consensus on the broad powers granted Congress in the Commerce Clause. This could profoundly alter the balance among branches of government, the relationship between the federal government and the states, and the Constitutional prerogative of Congress enshrined in the Constitution.
But these are issues to be fought some day in the future. For today, we can take comfort in the Court's willingness to protect the American public's access to quality health care.