WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court has given the government permission to tax people for not having health insurance, essentially approving the individual mandate in President Obama's healthcare law.
“The Affordable Care Act's requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably 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,” the court said in the ruling.
What this means is the constitutionality of the healthcare-reform package cannot be addressed until after that tax is assessed.
With the individual mandate staying in place, some 40 million Americans identified as uninsured will be required to purchase some level of insurance in 2014. That will drive a good number of patients to medical homes and, in theory, significantly increase the demand for maintenance prescriptions and other preventative or chronic healthcare services.
The ruling did not go over well with the retail industry.
In a just-released statement by the National Retail Federation, president and CEO Matthew Shay said that retailers are dismayed by the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act.
“The Court missed an opportunity to redress the many shortcomings of the law,” said Shay. “As it stands, the law wrongly focuses more on penalizing employers and the private sector than reducing health costs. This law will have a dramatic, negative impact on every employer and employee in the United States and further constrain job creation and economic growth.”