HKS Healthcare Experts Not Surprised by Supreme Court Ruling

June 28, 2012
By Jenny Li Fowler

The U.S. Supreme Court Thursday (June 28) upheld the basic provisions of the Affordable Care Act. By a 5-to-4 majority, the Court ruled that the individual mandate, allowing for penalties for those citizens who do not purchase insurance, is constitutional.
Robert Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis remarked, “Today marks a huge win for supporters of the Affordable Care Act and the President. The cloud of uncertainty over the constitutionality of the legislation has passed. But the debate about its future is not over. The American public is divided over whether this law was the right thing for this nation. The Republican Party at all levels is unified in its commitment to see it repealed after the 2012 election. Despite the law being ruled constitutional, its fate will be determined by the election results.”

Amitabh Chandra, professor of public policy, argues that uninsured Americans and President Obama were the biggest "winners" in the outcome, but also, "Tax-payers may be a third group of winners from the Supreme Court ruling because portions of the Affordable Care Act contain America’s first attempt at serious cost-control in healthcare. If these elements are successful, it could mean refund checks for taxpayers or more money for other priorities such as education. But if these cost control provisions don’t work—they are still unproven—then the insurance expansion will increase deficits even further (remember that insured people consume more healthcare than uninsured people!), making tax-payers the biggest losers of the decision."

David Cutler, HKS member of faculty, served as a health policy advisor to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Cutler added, “This decision today means that healthcare reform is finally happening in the United States. We will be able to push forward with comprehensive healthcare coverage and very necessary cost reductions.”
Thomas Glynn, lecturer in public policy said, “In addition to upholding the law's direct impact in the public arena, it also reinforced the many changes in the private insurance market and delivery systems which are much more innovative today than they were four years ago.”

Joseph Newhouse, John D. MacArthur Professor of Health Policy and Analysis, wrote that, "by upholding the Act, the Court left the future of the Act to the political process."


"The cloud of uncertainty over the constitutionality of the legislation has passed," said Blendon.


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