The Supreme Court yesterday upheld the Affordable Care Act [Obamacare], the health care reform law signed by President Obama in 2010, ruling 5-4 that the law was constitutional. Chief Justice John Roberts joined Justices Sonya Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Elena Kagan on the opinion. The individual mandate, the requirement that all Americans purchase health insurance or pay a fine, was upheld as legal under Congress’ taxing ability.
Health care reform isn’t important just because it expands access to quality, affordable care, but also because rapidly rising costs and the fact that 30 million Americans don’t have insurance are weighing down the American economy. Here are four reasons why the Court’s decision is good news for the still-struggling economy:
Obamacare will reduce the deficit. The Congressional Budget Office estimated in 2011 that Obamacare will reduce the federal deficit by $210 billion over the next decade. The law is expected to save about $1 trillion over its second decade, according to other CBO analyses. The CBO found that repealing the law, as Republicans attempted to do in 2011, would increase the deficit by $230 billion over the next 10 years.
Health care costs for young Americans won’t skyrocket. More than 3.1 million young Americans have insurance thanks to Obamacare. Without the law, the cost of acquiring an equivalent health care plan would have risen dramatically at a time when young people are still struggling with the effects of the Great Recession.
Millions of jobs will be created. Health reform will help create roughly 4 million jobs over the next decade, according to a 2010 Center for American Progress report, by reducing the cost of health care and making it cheaper for businesses to hire. The law will create between 250,000 and 400,000 jobs a year, and they will be spread across sectors: according to the study, the law will help create more than 200,000 manufacturing and 900,000 in the service sector by 2016.
It will be cheaper for employers to provide health care. American businesses are under tremendous pressure thanks to rising health care costs, and these costs are often passed on to customers (one study estimates that each car sold by General Motors contains $1,200 in built-in health costs). The ACA, however, will make it cheaper for businesses to provide care, and not just by reducing the cost of care. Small businesses are already receiving tax credits contained in the law to help insure their employees, and it has already offered more than $4.7 billion in reinsurance payments to companies that are providing health care to retirees who aren’t yet eligible for Medicare.
Even a judge who was a finalist for appointment to the Supreme Court under George W. Bush agreed that striking down health care would have had disastrous consequences for the American economy. “States’ rights are important in many spheres, but the benefits of a national economic policy must also be considered,” federal appeals court Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson wrote in February. “A vibrant economic order requires some political predictability, and the prospect of judges’ striking down commercial regulation on ill-defined and subjective bases is a prescription for economic chaos that the framers, in a simpler time, had the good sense to head off.” Fortunately, a majority on the Supreme Court agreed.