The U.S. Supreme Court has voted to uphold the Affordable Care Act, including the controversial provision to require individuals to purchase health insurance.
By a 5-4 vote issued Thursday morning the court ruled that the entire health care law is constitutional.
The justices also decided that the individual mandate -- the subject of legal claims by 26 states, including Georgia -- was constitutional if imposed as a tax.
Congress passed the ACA in 2010 with the provision that individuals not buying insurance would pay a fine. It was the focal point of President Obama's effort to expand health coverage to Americans without it, or those who are underinsured.
But the mandate also has been the bone of contention for political conservatives who have vowed to repeal the law, which they call "Obamacare."
Voting with the majority was Chief Justice John Roberts, who normally makes up the court's conservative block. But in his written remarks, he said that the mandate is constitutional 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."
In Republican-dominated East Cobb, the reaction from elected officials at the federal and state levels was swift and sharp.
U.S. Rep. Tom Price, a Roswell Republican who represents East Cobb in the House of Representatives, said in a statement that the ruling permits "an unbridled attack on personal freedom" and pledged to work for its repeal:
"We have no choice but to exercise every possible legislative option to repeal this disastrous law, and the American people should know that House Republicans will continue to advocate on their behalf to restore personal control over health care decisions.”
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Republican from East Cobb, also called on Congressional efforts to repeal ACA, saying the ruling "does not change the fact that there have been enormous problems trying to implement this terribly flawed law and that it must be repealed and replaced with a step-by-step approach that makes health care more accessible, affordable and competitive.”
State Sen. Judson Hill (R-East Cobb) also denounced the ruling, telling The Marietta Daily Journal that it "ignores the separation of powers principle explicitly laid out by the U.S. Constitution."
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, an East Cobb resident who filed the state's challenge to the health care law, issued a joint statement with Gov. Nathan Deal, calling the ruling "a huge setback for fiscal sanity and personal liberty. . . Congress explicitly said this was not a tax. I call on Congress to act swiftly, repeal the law and replace it with real reform that respects the Constitution as written.”
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