Gregory Magarian, a professor at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, believed that the entire law would pass by a narrow margin, but on a different basis.
"The result is what I was expecting on the mandate, but the way they got to it is not at all what I was expecting," Magarian said. "It sounds to me that the court was trying to be as cautious as it could in wading into the constitutional issues. What it found was the narrowest way to uphold the mandate and therefore uphold the rest of the Act. I think the result is the right result under my best understanding of the law so I'm very happy with what the court did. But it really is a curveball in terms of how they got there."
So, is this the end of the battle over health care reform? Probably not: the fight may simply switch venues, the experts said.
Today's decision by the Supreme Court settled the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, and now "Congress is free to change the provisions of the statute that the Court has said is constitutional," according to Landers.
"Congress could repeal the statute, revise the statute, or reduce, or decline to appropriate funds for the various programs the Act contemplates," Landers explained. "So now, a great deal rides on the November election -- control of the House and Senate and/or the outcome of the presidential election."
Presser added that, for now, however, "whatever else you want to say about the opinion, it creates a situation where the court steps aside. Roberts is the chief justice and he thinks about institutional issues and it's not surprising that he may have wanted to avoid a political firestorm. What is surprising is how he did it."
Landers said that whatever happens next politically, "in the meantime, I think that states have to move forward in implementation because they have some deadlines in January 2013, like taking steps to create their own [health insurance] exchanges that they have to meet, and you can't do that kind of thing overnight."
Visit the U.S. Supreme Court site for the official Affordable Care Act ruling.
Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.