The outcome of a 100-year fight for U.S. national health care rests on the verdict today of nine justices, who will emerge from behind a red velvet curtain.
Just four months before the presidential election, the Supreme Court is poised to rule on the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s biggest legislative achievement, which would extend coverage to at least 30 million uninsured Americans in the biggest overhaul of the nation’s health-care system since Medicare and Medicaid were enacted in 1965.
Obama rejected advice from aides, including then-chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, to settle for a more modest version of the health-care overhaul to reduce the political risk. He confronted Republicans and even some Democratic critics as he prevailed in a yearlong legislative battle.
“Americans don’t want to go back to the days when insurance companies were in charge,” Lis Smith, an Obama campaign spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement after Romney’s remarks. “Mitt Romney, however, is promising to take us back there.”
The court may uphold the entire statute. It could strike down part of the law, including the insurance mandate and the related provisions, which require insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions and charge them the same rates as other policyholders. The justices also might invalidate the expansion of the Medicaid program, which is intended to provide coverage to about 16 million uninsured. Or they could strike down the law.