Obama Health Care: 6 Million Uninsured Americans to be Hit with Tax Penalty Under Affordable Health Care
Sep 20, 2012 11:42 AM EDT
The Congressional Budget Office projected that nearly six million Americans will face a tax penalty in 2016 under the purview of Preisdent Obama's Affordable Health Care Act, which mandates that all individuals have health insurance, accept those who can prove financial difficulty or objection on religious ground.
The estimate of this nonpartisan body is two million more than it predicted in a similar study in 2010. According to the projection, the average penalty the six million Americans will face will be $1,600; the penalty will raise around $2.9 billion.
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However, the office also estimates that over 150 million Americans will be covered under the Affordable Health Care Act many will receive coverage from employers.
Erin Shields Britt, spokesman for the Health and Human Services Department told the Associated Press, ""This (analysis) doesn't change the basic fact that the individual responsibility policy will only affect people who can afford health care but choose not to buy it...We're no longer going to subsidize the care of those who can afford to buy insurance but make a choice not to buy it."
In a watershed ruling this summer, the Supreme Court upheld the most controversial part of the healthcare plan i.e. the individual mandate clause. The mandate of this legislation requires every American to have healthcare or incur a financial penalty, was upheld as being within the constitutional authority of the federal government to impose taxes. The Affordable Healthcare Act aka Obama care was upheld in a 5-4 vote.
Justice John Roberts provided the tie-break vote. Roberts vote does in deed surprise, since he is known to be a conservative judge appointed by former President George Bush in 2005. Roberts stated that since there was sufficient precedence establishing the federal government's powers in tax-measures and interstate commerce, the individual mandate clause was perfectly constitutional.
In the majority writing, Justice Roberts stated, "The most straightforward reading of the individual mandate is that it commands individuals to purchase insurance. But, for the reasons explained, the Commerce Clause does not give Congress that power. It is therefore necessary to turn to the Government's alternative argument: that the mandate may be upheld as within Congress's power to 'lay and collect Taxes," as reported by the Boston Globe.
Justice Roberts joined the four liberal Justices - Stephen Breyer, Ruth bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor in providing the majority to pass the bill.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was expected to be the swing vote, voted against the mandate.
The ruling, of-course, as expected was fractured. The court struck down the clause that stated that the federal government would withhold Medicaid funds from a state that does not impose the healthcare reform. The court ruled that the central government cannot penalize a state by withholding funds.
Surely, the Supreme Court ruling is not the end on the dispute of national healthcare. The issue is sure to be central in the upcoming elections as well as the most prominent subject of national discourse.