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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, commonly referred to as the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) is a United States federal law put into place by the 111th United States Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 2010. This comprehensive health care reform law provides people with premium tax credits which in turn helps to lower costs for any households with incomes between 100-400% of the federal poverty level. It ensures that all Americans have access to affordable health insurance. It offers consumers tax credits on government sponsored health insurance plans, as well as increasing the Medicaid assistance program to help cover even more people who cannot afford health care. The Affordable Care Act also changed some of the rules and regulations insurance companies are required to follow.
Insurance companies are no longer allowed to discriminate against consumers with preexisting medical conditions. But not everybody is eligible to receive health insurance tax credits. Consumers are only eligible to receive these discounts to help offset health insurance costs if their household income is between one and four times the Federal Poverty Level. The Federal Poverty Level is a number used by the government to determine the minimum amount of money needed for basic needs like food and shelter. Consumers can elect to apply credits to their premium immediately in order to lower the monthly insurance bill or wait and declare it on their tax return. While there are still people who make too much money to qualify for these credits, there are still plans offered by the federal insurance marketplace or state’s exchange but additional discounts are not available. Medicaid and other government assistance options are available as well. The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 amendment is arguably one of the United State’s healthcare system’s most groundbreaking and innovative expansion of coverage since Medicaid in 1965.
President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act on March 2010. In the 9 months leading up to it a multitude of obstacles were overcome before the bill was passed. In July of 2009 speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, as well as some other democrats from the House of Representatives, revealed their plan to overhaul the health care system. In August Massachusetts’ senator Ted Kennedy, a leading supporter of health care reform, passed away. Two weeks later Democrat Paul Kirk is appointed as a stand in senator for Massachusetts, causing a temporary restoration of the Democrats’ filibuster proof 60th vote. Later in November, 219 Democrats and one Republican in the House of Representatives vote for the Affordable Health care for America Act, while 39 Democrats and 176 Republicans vote against it. In early March, Senate Democrats utilized budget reconciliation in order to get to one bill approved by the House and the Senate. The use of budget reconciliation only required 51 Senators to vote in favor of the bill for it to go to the presidents desk for signature. As of March 23rd a grandfathered health plan status was put in place for anyone who had individually purchased a health insurance plan which would stay in place for as long as the insurer continues to offer the plan.
In January of 2011 a Florida judge ruled that elements of the Affordable Care Act are unconstitutional, in November the United States Supreme Court agrees to hear arguments regarding the Obamacare case brought by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business. In the Affordable Care Act hit a turning point in the 2011 the United States Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Congress’ power to enact provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the constitutional case of National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius.
But in June of 2012 the US Supreme Court upholds the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Five months later, President Obama is reelected ensuring the Affordable Care Act will survive. On March 4th of 2015 the United States Supreme Court heard arguments for both sides of the King v. Burwell, a lawsuit challenging the legality of paying insurance premium subsidies through the federal exchanges, rather than those that were run by states. When the dispute reached the Supreme Court in 2014, Justice Roberts wrote the controlling decision for a 6-3 majority, rejecting the challenge outright.
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