WASHINGTON, June 28: In a landmark decision on Thursday, the US Supreme Court upheld President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform which will bring medical facilities to poor Americans as well.
The 5-4 verdict is seen as a defeat to the Republicans who campaigned hard to repeal the health package they dubbed Obamacare.
And it brings a major victory to President Obama and his Democrats close to presidential and congressional elections, due in November.
“In doing so, they've reaffirmed a fundamental principle that here in America — in the wealthiest nation on Earth — no illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin,” said President Obama while commenting on the verdict. But presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans renewed their pledge to repeal the Obama administration's health-care overhaul.
“What the court did not do, I will do on my first day as president," said Mr Romney, adding that he would undo it because the policy amounted to a tax increase on Americans.
The top Democrat in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, however, said the court ruling is a victory for the American people because it “ensured health care would be a right for all, not a privilege for the few."
The reform, known as the “individual mandate” requires all Americans to purchase health insurance or face a financial penalty. Those who cannot afford it, will get the government’s help for buying insurance.
A major shock for the Republicans was Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision to support more liberal judges. Mr Roberts was nominated to the court by former president George W. Bush and is considered a conservative.
“Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our (the court's) role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness,” he ruled.
Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor voted with Roberts to uphold the law.
Healthcare is a deeply polarising issue in the US. The State of Florida, with 12 other states, had filed a legal challenge to the bill immediately after Mr Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law in March 2010.
They were later joined by 13 more states, the National Federation of Independent Business and by several individuals.
The Obama administration had argued the “individual mandate” was constitutional because all Americans will need medical care at some point in their lives.
The judgment also caused historic mistakes by two US news organisations, CNN and the Fox News. Minutes after the verdict, CNN sent out a breaking news alert: “The Supreme Court has struck down the individual mandate for health care — the legislation that requires all to have health insurance.”
The Fox News followed with a “headline” at the bottom of the screen declaring: “Supreme Court Finds Individual Mandate Unconstitutional.”