We are live blogging the decision and reaction here at Washington Whispers, with photos and videos from outside the court and commentary from healthcare experts to tell you what the ruling means.
We also want to hear from you. The ruling will have a very real impact on millions of Americans -- how will it affect you?
Closing up, 4:00 p.m.
We're closing up the live blog for the night. Thanks for following along, and be sure to check out our continuing coverage of the ruling at usnews.com
The photo that says it all, 3:50 p.m.
In today's photo of the day, taken on Capitol Hill, Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio have very different reactions to the health care ruling.
The individual mandate as a tax, 3:23 p.m.
The Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate Thursday as a tax, arguing that the penalty for individuals who do not get insurance under the mandate "functions like a tax," and so the law is allowed under Congress' taxing power.
Within hours, the tax aspect of the ruling had become a talking point for Republicans, many of whom are calling the law "biggest tax increase ever in American history,”
Whether or not that's accurate, tax experts say there will be major changes for how Americans file taxes.
Kathy Pickering of the Tax Institute at H&R Block told Whispers "the law will have enormous ramifications for how Americans file taxes each year going forward"
“Not only will our customers and associates be affected, but also our 4,500 franchisees who are small businesses owners throughout the country," she said.
President Obama was fooled by reporting errors, 2:45 p.m.
Politico's Glenn Thrush reports that when Obama saw the erroneous CNN report, which said the individual mandate had been struck down, the president was "a bit crestfallen and anxious for more detail."
White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, however, soon told the president CNN was wrong.
"When the reality hit, he padded into the Oval Office, where he embraced Ruemmler," Thrush writes, "and eventually hugged his laconic chief of staff Jack Lew."
Wait -- I thought POTUS doesn't watch cable? @GlennThrush: False CNN report fooled Obama -- he thought mandate was dead, according to staff— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) June 28, 2012
GOP Congressman no longer friends with Justice Roberts, 2:08 p.m.
Republican Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia is no longer friends with Chief Justice John Roberts after the ruling:
With #Obamacare ruling, I feel like I just lost two great friends: America and Justice Roberts.— Jack Kingston (@JackKingston) June 28, 2012
Roberts, who often rules conservatively, was the swing vote that meant Obama's health care law was upheld.
Romney raises $1 million after ruling, 1:30 p.m.
Will the health care ruling further energize the GOP base? Romney's spokeswoman Andrea Saul tweets:
What the ruling means for consumers, 1:16 p.m.
U.S. News business reporter Meg Handley gives the rundown on how the ruling will affect the insured, the uninsured, and those eligible for Medicare or Medicaid.
Court sketch of SCOTUS, 1:10 p.m.
Arthur Lien, a Maryland-based court artist, has this sketch of SCOTUS as the health care ruling was announced:
Business groups have mixed reaction to ruling, 1:00 p.m.
U.S. News business reporter Rick Newman interviewed several business groups unhappy with the ruling.
Dan Danner, CEO, National Federation of Independent Business, told Newman: "This will take a law that’s already unpopular among the majority of Americans and make it more so. This is a big new tax on you."
Karen Harned, Executive Director of the NFIB Small Business Legal Center, also criticized the ruling. "The court endorsed a bait-and-switch in which Congress can pass a tax but not call it a tax," she said.
The American Sustainable Business Council, however, applauded the decision.
In response to a comment that the ruling was a loss for the working man, U.S. News reader Robert Kaussner, who owns a photography business, writes in the comments section:
President Obama says ruling was "a victory for people all over this country", 12:23 p.m.
The president began by saying that the Supreme Court "reaffirmed a fundamental principle, that here in America, the wealthiest nation on Earth, no illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin."
He said that the ensuring political debate over the ruling "misses the point."
"Whatever the politics, today's decision was a victory for people all over this country, whose lives will be more secure," he said.
Obama also spent considerable time talking about the benefits of the ruling, which he said would help millions of families, young adults and seniors.
Those who can afford healthcare, he said, have a responsibility to get it.
Obama reiterated that he was aware the law was divisive, and understood the "concerns."
"It should be clear by now that I didn't do this because it was good politics. I did it because I believed it was good for the American people," he said.
"Because of this law [sick] Americans... will not have to hang their fortunes on chance. These are the Americans for whom we passed this law."
WATCH video of the address, via Mediaite:
Mitt Romney calls ruling 'troubling', 11:57 a.m.
Here is a rush transcript of highlights from Romney's statement on the ruling, which he made near the Supreme Court before noon:
"What the court did not do on the last day of session, I will do on my first day as president of the United States, that is to repeal Obamacare."
"Obamacare was bad policy yesterday, it is bad policy today."
"It raises taxes on the American people by 500 billion dollars... [and] cuts medicare by 500 billion dollars...Obamacare adds trillions to our deficit and national debt....Obamacare is a job killer."
"Perhaps most troubling of all, Obamacare puts the government between you and your doctor."
"Obamacare... [needs to be] helping lower the cost of healthcare...It is prohibitively expensive."
"It is time for the American people to make a choice... do you want larger and larger government?... or instead [do] you want to return to a time when American people can make their own choice in healthcare?"
"Our vision is clear, if we want to get rid of Obamacare, we are going to have to get rid of President Obama."
President Obama, Mitt Romney to respond to ruling, 11:45 a.m.
Mitt Romney will deliver remarks shortly on the ruling. MSNBC shows a sign on Romney's podium that reads "REPEAL & REPLACE OBAMACARE" with a Romney logo.
President Obama will also deliver a statement on the ruling, in the East Room of the White House at 12:15 p.m. EST. You can watch the statement live at WhiteHouse.gov/Live.
Obama had prepared three different speeches for the ruling, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Obama gets political win but policy loss?, 11:45 a.m.
U.S. News' Brad Bannon argues that while the ruling is a political win for Obama, it could also be a policy loss. "The mandate was the most unpopular feature of the Affordable Care Act and the court's decision will galvanize and energize the Tea Party in the fall," Bannon writes.
CHART: Americans unhappy no matter what the ruling, 11:35 a.m.
Polling by the Pew Research Center found that no healthcare ruling would please a majority of Americans:
#WhatItMeans for patients, 11:21 a.m.
Dr. Delos Cosgrove, president and chief executive officer of the Cleveland Clinic, a $6.2 billion dollar healthcare system, tells us what the ruling means for patients.
"Patients aren't going to notice anything right away," he said, noting that in 2014, 10 percent of individuals currently uninsured will have to buy insurance.
Healthcare, he said, will become increasingly coordinated as a result of the ruling.
"The emphasis is going to be on keeping people well and keeping them out of the hospital. Doctors will be paid not for volume (procedures, visits), but for value of the care. It takes out the financial incentive for doctors."
Obama supporters celebrate at court, 11:15 a.m.
U.S. News reporter Lauren Fox, who is at the court, tweets:
Bachmann drowned out by protesters screaming "four more years" twitter.com/FoxReports/sta…— Lauren Michelle Fox(@FoxReports) June 28, 2012
GOP statements on the ruling, 10:57 a.m.
Republican Party of Minnesota: "Obamacare is still alive. We must repeal Obamacare in 2012.
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio: "The president's healthcare law is hurting our economy by driving up health costs and making it harder for small businesses to hire. Today's ruling underscores the urgency of repealing this harmful law."
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus: "Today's Supreme Court decision sets the stakes for the November election. Now, the only way to save the country from ObamaCare's budget-busting government takeover of healthcare is to elect a new president."
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: “The Supreme Court is confirming what we knew all along about this law – it is a tax on middle class Americans.”
Concerned Women for America: "We are outraged to see the Supreme Court ignoring the constitutional limits the Founders put in place."
Tea Party Express: "The American people still reject this legislation."
Pro-life group Susan B. Anthony list: "Obamacare is fundamentally flawed legislation because it makes American taxpayers complicit in the deaths of countless unborn children."
National Republican Congressional Committee: "The most effective way to get rid of Obamacare is to get rid of the Democrats who have defended [it]."
Former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum: "Today's outcome is the worst of all scenarios...This is a sad day."
Sarah Palin calls Obama liar, 10:51 a.m.
Sarah Palin tweets of the healthcare ruling:
Obama lied to the American people. Again. He said it wasn't a tax. Obama lies; freedom dies.— Sarah Palin (@SarahPalinUSA) June 28, 2012
Did justices' healthcare issues sway ruling?, 10:45 a.m.
Congress.org reports on the personal health histories of the Supreme Court justices, and how it may have affected the ruling. Of Chief Justice John Roberts, the website writes:
"Roberts has suffered two seizures for unexplained reasons. If he didn’t have federal health benefits, he would be uninsurable on the private market without the law’s requirement for coverage of people with pre-existing conditions. At 57, he would not yet qualify for Medicare."
CNN put up wrong report, 10:45 a.m.
Oops. CNN initially reported on television and online that the Supreme Court struck down the individual mandate. The court actually upheld the mandate, as well as the entire healthcare law.
An AP employee writes in an email to media commentator Jim Romenesko:
"CNN fails badly on SCOTUS healthcare decision. AP first. SCOTUSblog saying complicated. CNN says overturned. Win AP. Big fail CNN. Perhaps they shouldn't have dropped AP to save money. Accuracy counts."
How justices ruled, 10:35 a.m.
CNN's live blog reports that Chief Justice John Roberts, as the swing vote, was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
Justice Kennedy dissented. "In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety," he said.
All four dissenters wanted the entire law killed.
READ the opinions at SupremeCourt.gov.
Political implications, 10:30 a.m.
At Supreme Court steps, 10:20 a.m.
U.S. News reporter Lauren Fox reports from the Supreme Court steps that both sides initially declared victory. As the ruling became clear, tea party and other healthcare opponents became "increasingly upset."
Health care law upheld, 10:10 a.m.
SCOTUS blog reports the entire healthcare law has been upheld, including the individual mandate. "The court reinforces that individuals can simply refuse to pay the tax and not comply with the mandate," SCOTUS blog writes.
While the expansion of Medicaid was found constitutional, the court ruled that states can't have funds taken away if they don't comply.
The mandate was upheld 5-4. Chief Justice Roberts' fifth vote saved the law.
Live Stream from court steps 10:02 a.m.
CBS News has a live stream from SCOTUS steps:
Countdown, 15 minutes, 10:00 a.m.
Reminder: While the court will start at 10 a.m., the healthcare decision likely won't come until 10:15, because the decisions for two other cases will be announced first.
Amy Howe at SCOTUS blog writes that "when the Justices take the bench, the Marshal -- Pamela Talkin -- will pound the gavel and with an 'Oyez, oyez,' announc[ing] that the Court is in session. Then the Chief Justice will take over."
The ruling, in plain English, 9:55 a.m.
SCOTUS blog gives us the main issue of the healthcare case, in short, plain English:
"Does it violate the Constitution for Congress to require virtually all Americans to obtain health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty? If the Court's answer is yes, then it has to decide whether just the requirement -- the so-called "individual mandate" -- is invalid, or whether part or all of the rest of the healthcare law must go with it."
The justices' personal finance records, 9:50 a.m.
OpenSecrets.org, a resource that tracks federal campaign contributions, is awaiting the healthcare ruling by sharing the Supreme Court justices' personal finance records. Here, see the records of Chief Justice John Roberts, or follow along to see the rest on Twitter with the hashtag #pfd.
Protesters getting heated at court steps, 9:45 a.m.
Progressive website Think Progress reports that men at the court steps are currently chanting: "Real women buy their own birth control!"
U.S. News reporter Lauren Fox, who is on the scene, reports that tea partiers and occupiers are standing side by side holding opposing signs:
The politics of the decision, 9:30 a.m.
Politico's Mike Allen reports that a top Republican argues: "if Obamacare is struck down, it makes a 'failure' narrative easier to pursue against Obama."
In an email to supporters, top Obama adviser Jim Messina says.: 'We don't know what will happen this morning. But no matter what, today is an important day to have Barack Obama's back. If you're with him, donate now -- before this week's critical fundraising deadline.'
Meanwhile, the progressive research group American Bridge 21st century published a 2006 video today of then-Gov. Mitt Romney saying he is "very pleased" with the individual mandate:
Protesters at the court, 9:20 a.m.
U.S. News Capitol Hill reporter Lauren Fox, who is at the Supreme Court, is surrounded by protesters both for and against the healthcare law:
Students for Life of America say they hope healthcare is overturned to stop government funded abortions. twitter.com/FoxReports/sta…— Lauren Michelle Fox(@FoxReports) June 28, 2012
Occupy D.C. makes an appearance at the Supreme Court. twitter.com/FoxReports/sta…— Lauren Michelle Fox(@FoxReports) June 28, 2012
Who's inside the courtroom, 9:20 a.m.
While there will be no live cameras or microphones in the courtroom, there will be a small press section. Also in the courtroom: former GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann:
#WhatItMeans, 9:10 a.m.
How will the ruling affect you? Readers are telling us using the hashtag #whatitmeans:
Oddly nervous about the SCOTUS decision on the healthcare bill, spec. the under 26 part. Life w/o insurance is gonna be fun! #whatitmeans— Erin M Wagoner (@emwago) June 28, 2012
Over at the Washington Post, a handy tool allows you to enter in facts like your current health insurance coverage, income and size of household to find out how the three most likely outcomes could affect you.
Tips from the SCOTUS blog, 9:00 a.m.
The SCOTUS blog tells us that the ruling "almost certainly won't be right at 10," as several other decisions may come first. 10:15 is more likely.
SCOTUS bloggers say their effort to get the decision out first (and correctly) will cost them "roughly $25,000" in server hosting time "mostly for the first 30 seconds or so."
'Obamacare equals economic slavery', 8:57 a.m.
U.S. News Capitol Hill reporter Lauren Fox tweets from the steps of the Supreme Court:
Affordable Care Act by the numbers, 8:50 a.m.
U.S. News reporters Meg Handley and Seth Cline have rounded up the numbers that tell us what's at stake when the Supreme Court rules.
Under the Affordable Care Act, 2.5 million more young adults have been able to keep their insurance cover until they are 26. $2.1 billion has been saved by seniors on prescriptions drugs. 93 percent of Americans would have health insurance by 2022. See all the numbers here.
Oops, Chicago Sun Times, 8:36 a.m.
A Seattle journalist noticed that the Chicago Sun-Times accidentally published their prepared copy for after the SCOTUS announcement. Four different scenarios, four different headlines and lead paragraphs:
SCOTUS blog must reads, 8:36 a.m.
The Supreme Court live blog has a number of resources for the ruling today. We recommend:
- A reader's guide to the ruling
- The issues in plain English
- Statistics on the Supreme Court justices
- The Affordable Care Act, in depth
Fast facts, 8:32 a.m.
The U.S. News Twitter account will be tweeting out fast facts on healthcare that you should know throughout the day:
The U.S. spends $2.75 trillion a year on healthcare. #whatitmeans— U.S.News&WorldReport (@usnews) June 28, 2012
The Affordable Care Act requires insurance plans with dependent coverage to cover children until their 26th birthday. #whatitmeans— U.S.News&WorldReport (@usnews) June 28, 2012
Updates from outside Supreme Court, 8:22 a.m.
U.S. News Capitol Hill reporter Lauren Fox is live tweeting from outside the Supreme Court.
Three scenarios, 8:00 a.m.
Though many scenarios are possible, the court is likely to rule in one of three ways:
Why this would happen: The court decides that Congress overreached its authority by requiring Americans to have health insurance, and by requiring states to expand Medicaid.
What it means: An estimated 50 million people without health insurance would remain uninsured. With the total law struck down, pre-existing conditions could again prevent Americans from obtaining health insurance, and adults under the age of 26 would no longer be allowed to stay on their parents' plan. But it's also possible the insurance companies would allow these popular parts of the legislation to stay in place. Politically, this ruling could be disastrous for Obama.
2) SCOTUS strikes down only the "individual mandate" requiring Americans to purchase health insurance.
Why this would happen: The court decides that Congress overreached its authority by requiring Americans to have health insurance, and that it's possible to sever the mandate from the other parts of the law.
What it means: Most aspects of the healthcare law would remain. But insurance companies could raise the costs of some plans to offset the rising costs of the law's remaining provisions. Politically, it's a mixed bag.
Why this would happen: The court either will find no basis for the claim that Congress overreached its authority. Or, because the mandate has not taken effect, there is no basis on which to sue yet.
What it means: As of 2014, most uninsured Americans could get health insurance. Politically, the GOP would be very unhappy and President Obama's signature legislation would be vindicated.