This article was last updated on November 2017
Download The Entire Affordable Care Act Bill (PPACA)
Download Obamacare Bill
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is a United States federal statute signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. The law (along with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010) is the principal health care reform legislation of the 111th United States Congress. Obamacare reforms certain aspects of the private health insurance industry and public health insurance programs, increases insurance coverage of pre-existing conditions, expands access to insurance to over 45 million Americans, and increases medical spending.
Obamacare passed the Senate on December 24, 2009, by a vote of 60–39 with all Democrats and two Independents voting for, and all Republicans voting against. It passed the House of Representatives on March 21, 2010, by a vote of 219–212, with 34 Democrats and all 178 Republicans voting against the bill. A majority of the states, and numerous organizations and individual persons, have filed actions in federal court challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare. In June 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the Individual Mandate requirement of the law was constitutional and therefore, held that the main intent of the law, requiring every American to have health insurance, was lawful.
There are new challenges to different provisions of the law reaching the courtroom floor every day and it will be interesting to see what the next big issue will be. In 2014, a few federal district courts held that the plain language of the law stated that the federal subsidy would only available to people living in states with their own state exchange. It was argued that this was not a design flaw, but an attempt by the authors to compel all of the states to have their own exchange. This would take a big burden off of the federal government so that the money in the budget could go to subsidies and program funding instead of to a website and the administration of it. In June 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that subsidies (tax credits) were legal in all states regardless of whether a state had set up its own exchange or not. No matter where you live, you can get cost assistance on the marketplace to reduce your monthly premium.
A more recent (and successful) challenge to Obamacare argued that cost-sharing reduction payments, which are paid to insurers to reduce cost-sharing amounts to low-income customers, were not being appropriately funded as required by law. The Obama administration appealed this decision, but the Trump administration is upholding that decision and cutting off CSR payments. How this will play out over the next few years remains to be seen. For updates and other information on the Affordable Care Act, be sure and check out our news section, which is updated regularly.