In today’s landmark ruling, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court John Roberts sided with the more liberal justices and voted to uphold The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare), in a 5-4 ruling. I followed as the ruling came down through the SCOTUSblog and it was quite a unique experience to watch as those bloggers quickly tried to make sense of the ruling, and report on it as it happen. In a similar effort to be the first network to break the news, both CNN and Fox News reported incorrectly that the mandate had been struck down. In defense of those networks the opinions of the Justices were quite lengthy, The Chief’s majority opinion is 59 pages, Justice Ginsburg’s opinion is 61 pages, and the opinion of the dissenters are 65 pages, followed by a short two page comment on the Commerce Clause from Justice Thomas. The beginning of the Chief’s opinion stated, “We do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgement is entrusted to the Nation’s elected leaders. We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the challenged provisions.”
Among the sound policies that have been questioned by many is the individual mandate provision. In order for the expansion of health care coverage to millions of uninsured Americans to be economically feasible, it would require health insurance companies to be guaranteed a large pool of customers. The ACA would mandate that all Americans must buy insurance. The ruling by the Supreme Court upheld the ACA, but with the caveat that the government cannot command Americans to buy insurance, rather they can just tax them if they don’t.
As a side note, an aspect of the ACA that I particularly like is that it allows young adults to remain insured under a parent’s health insurance until they are 26. Since its inception in 2010, this provision has provided more than 3 million young Americans with coverage, which is great!
In keeping with the theme of visualizing data, I wanted to take a look at how the ACA has been presented. Good Design held a contest to design an infographic which disseminates the relevant information of the act, in an easy to understand, and visually pleasing manner. The picked 3 winners, my favorite of which is presented below.
But just because the ACA has been upheld, does not mean that the fight is over. Below is an infographic (from before the ruling) outlining the likely next steps.