How the Supreme Court ruled

In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate—the requirement that all Americans obtain health insurance by 2014—at the heart of the health-care law.

Individual Mandate

Is the penalty in the law equivalent to a tax that therefore—
under the Anti-Injunction Act—cannot be challenged until it's
actually levied? YES and NO

In voting to uphold the mandate, the justices ruled that a penalty for refusing to obtain health insurance amounts to a tax. But the court did not accept that the Anti-Injunction Act precludes a decision on the health-care law.

Is the law's individual mandate constitutional? YES

The court rejected the administration's commerce-clause argument, but ruled that Congress has "the power to impose" the individual mandate under its taxing authority. The provision "need not be read to do more than impose a tax," the opinion said. "That is sufficient to sustain it."

Medicaid Expansion

Is the law's provision expanding Medicaid to cover a greater share of the poor constitutional? YES, but . . .

The justices found that the law's expansion of Medicaid can move forward, but not its provision that threatens states with the loss of their existing Medicaid funding if the states declined to comply with the expansion. The finding raises questions as to how effectively the federal government will be able to implement the expansion of the joint federal-state insurance program for the poor.

SOURCE: Staff reports. GRAPHIC: The Washington Post. Published June 28, 2012.