The Supreme Court, in a split decision, has .
In a 5-4 opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the majority of the court rejected arguments that the law violated the Constitution's interstate commerce clause. But in holding that the penalty for failing to purchase health insuance was a tax, the Supreme Court kept the act's individual mandate in place.
Cherise Tasker, of Columbia, says there should be no Americans left uninsured.
"I feel that health care is a right, not a privilege," Tasker said. "It's not a sign of a compassionate country if there are 45 million uninsured people who can only go to the emergency room if they want care, and whose basic health care needs can't be met."
Tasker says she doesn't believe this is the last hurdle for the health care legislation, particularly if a conservative wins the White House in the near future.
"If there is going to be a Republican president, there will be more opposition," Tasker said.
Matt Mueller, 20, is a student at Gettysburg College and he is covered through state health care for college students. Mueller says parts of the legislation such as child coverage up to the age of 26 are good, but people shouldn't be forced to pay a tax if they choose not to pay for health care.
"Obviously people need health care, but you can't force people to buy it. That's like the government saying you have to buy an iPhone, and if you don't, they're going to tax you extra," Mueller said.
Dr. Peter Beilenson, Howard County's health officer, said Thursday that now that health insurance is mandatory, in January of 2014.
Beilenson also said that the nonprofit would now increase its focus on explaining how the health care law works for residents.
“The … [law] is complex,” he said. “Because it’s been bandied about as a political football, nobody knows quite what it is. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled this is the law of the land, we can start explaining it to the average citizen what it means.
“We will be both the educator and the navigator for enrollment.”
Republican State Sen. Allan Kittleman, who represents Howard and Carroll counties, said .
“I’m glad the court said it violated the Commerce Act,” he said. “My concern--it seems the justices have stretched to find it valid under the power of taxing authority.”
Kittleman also said the decision would catapult health care into the presidential election debate.
“I think it’s going to be one of the, if not the biggest issue in the election,” Kittleman told Patch. “It could be an albatross to hang around the president’s neck and make it difficult for re-election.”
See below for more Patch coverage on the Supreme Court health care decision: