KHQA contributed to the story written by MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press.
WASHINGTON (AP) â?? The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the individual insurance requirement at the heart of President Barack Obama's historic health care overhaul.
The decision means the huge overhaul, still only partly in effect, will proceed and pick up momentum over the next several years, affecting the way that countless Americans receive and pay for their personal medical care. The ruling also hands Obama a campaign-season victory in rejecting arguments that Congress went too far in requiring most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty.
Chief Justice John Roberts announced the court's judgment that allows the law to go forward with its aim of covering more than 30 million uninsured Americans.
The justices rejected two of the administration's three arguments in support of the insurance requirement. But the court said the mandate can be construed 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," Roberts said.
The court found problems with the law's expansion of Medicaid, but even there said the expansion could proceed as long as the federal government does not threaten to withhold states' entire Medicaid allotment if they don't take part in the law's extension.
The court's four liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, joined Roberts in the outcome.
Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.
"The act before us here exceeds federal power both in mandating the purchase of health insurance and in denying non-consenting states all Medicaid funding," the dissenters said in a joint statement.
Local lawmakers and business organizations began to react as news of the decision began to spread.
William N. Werner, M.D., President, Illinois State Medical Society applauded the decision but said there is more work to be done to truly reform the health system.
"It is good news that Illinoisans will have the responsibility and tools for obtaining health insurance coverage," he said. "It is also positive to note that important coverage provisions, such as the protection against denial for pre-existing conditions, remain in place."
Dan Danner, President and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business said he was disappointed by the decision.
â??We are concerned about the precedent that this will set in Congressâ?? ability to mandate other aspects of our lives, but we will move forward from today to continue to fight, harder than ever, for real health-care reform for our membership," he said.
Gov. Jay Nixon today issued a statement at 10:30 a.m.
â??Weâ??re just now beginning to review this ruling so that we can understand exactly what it means for Missouri. This ruling has significant complexities and implications for families, health care providers and insurers in our state. Here in Missouri, I'm committed to working collaboratively with citizens, businesses, medical providers and the legislature to move forward in a way that works best for families in our state.â??
Illinois Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said: "â??It is also noteworthy that after two controversial, activist decisions in Bush v. Gore and Citizens United, the Chief Justice, in both the Arizona immigration law and the Affordable Care Act cases, appears to be working to reestablish the political neutrality of this court. That is a positive development.â??