Supreme Court upholds Obamacare: a key victory in election year

Francis Pitt 

Image © roberthuffstutter

The United States Supreme Court has upheld President Obama’s flagship healthcare bill, a decision that has given the Democratic Party’s incumbent a boost as he looks towards November’s presidential election showdown with Mitt Romney.

The legislation, which has polarised opinion in America, will now ensure that millions of Americans, who previously would not have be able to access healthcare, will now be able to do what so many in other Western countries take for granted.

Within minutes of the announcement, Twitter was buzzing with reaction. Many Republicans were not happy with the decision of America’s highest court.  Missouri Congressman, Todd Akin tweeted, “Since its inception I have fought against the adoption of #Obamacare. We must defund and repeal all of it.” Other tweeters were also not happy with the ruling: “There is only one guaranteed way to get rid of Obamacare: President Romney taking the oath on January 20th, 2013.”

The decision was a close run thing, with the court ruling by 5-4 in favour of the bill. The decision was carried by Chief Justice, John Roberts (a Conservative) who himself voted in favour.  Justice Roberts gave his reaction to the decision to not strike down the Bill and in particular the penalty for not getting insured, which many Americans saw as a tax: “The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax. Because the constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.”

Despite the ruling the issue is far from over. Many Americans are still against the mere thought of a universal system similar to those in Europe, or their neighbours, Canada. They see it as an attack on their personal freedom and as something that could potentially lead to the eroding of American society as they know it. The darling of the Tea Party Right, Sarah Palin added her disgust at the ruling by tweeting, “Obama lied to the American people again. He said it wasn’t a tax. Obama lies; freedom dies.” 

But surely, freedom means not having to pay over the odds for what is fundamentally a basic human right. Freedom is the knowledge that, whatever your personal situation, financial background or social class, you have access to the best healthcare possible, without having to pay for it your entire life. Having the option to choose Private Healthcare may itself be a defence of freedom of choice, but it is certainly not a freedom that millions of people in that same society are able to enjoy.

Many Americans will be hugely relived by this decision, as now they can get access to healthcare. It may not be the NHS, but it is a huge step to making the United States a more equal society. America has always seen itself as the land of the free, and now, freedom comes with healthcare for all.

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