WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court has upheld the individual insurance requirement at the heart of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.
The court on Thursday handed 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.
The decision means the historic overhaul will continue to take effect over the next several years, affecting the way countless Americans receive and pay for their personal medical care.
It is a decision that triggered reaction as emotional as the debate that lead up to the law being passed.
The court found problems with the law's expansion of Medicaid. But even there, it said the expansion could proceed as long as the federal government does not threaten to withhold the entire Medicaid allotment to states if they don't take part in the extension.
The court's four liberal justices, Stephen Bryer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, joined Roberts in the outcome.
Minnesota statistics say 509,000 state residents are uninsured, about 9.8 percent of the population.
Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton used a provision in the health care acess law federal to extend Medicaid coverage to more than 80,000 vulnerable adults as soon as he took office in 2011. His administration has focused on developing an online health insurance marketplace envisioned as a key part of the law, securing $28.4 million from the federal government for Minnesota's planning efforts.
It seems as if the entire nation was holding its breath for the Supreme Court's health care ruling; the presidential candidates, governors of virtually every state, insurers with billions at stake, companies large and small and countless millions of Americans concerned about their own medical care and how they'll pay for it.
The Court's decision will not be the last word on the nation's efforts to address its tangled health care woes. The problems of high medical costs, widespread waste and tens of millions of people without insurance will require Congress and the president to keep looking for answers, even after President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act passes the test of constitutionality.
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