Split Supreme Court Upholds Health Law Based on Taxing Power

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In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court declares constitutional a key provision of the federal health reform law, known as the individual mandate or minimum coverage provision, which requires virtually all U.S. citizens to obtain health care insurance or pay a penalty. The ruling rested on somewhat unexpected grounds: Congress's power under the U.S. Constitution's Taxing and Spending Clause. While the “most straightforward reading” of the mandate is that it commands individuals to buy insurance, it also can be read merely as establishing a condition—lack of health insurance—that triggers a tax, Chief Justice Roberts says.