WASHINGTON, USA (AFP) — The US Supreme Court upheld President Barack Obama's health reforms yesterday in a decision with major implications for the political landscape and the provision of care for decades to come.
The reforms, dubbed "Obamacare" by opponents, have been sharply divisive.
For Democrats, they don't go far enough but are at least a start in the liberal crusade towards making sure healthcare coverage is provided to all citizens.
For Republicans, forcing people to buy coverage or face a fine is government overreach and the reforms will only hike premiums and hurt the quality of care.
"Whatever the politics, today's decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives are more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court's decision to uphold it," said a triumphant Obama.
"We are jumping for joy," said Julie Walters, a 35-year-old recruiter in Novato, California whose three-year-old Violet has a rare genetic condition that causes severe epilepsy.
"It means we can live our life not in fear," Walters, said whose daughter could have lost coverage due to her pre-existing condition if the law had been struck down.
However, Mitt Romney, Obama's opponent in November's presidential elections, insisted that the policy was bad, despite the Supreme Court's decision.
"Obamacare was bad policy yesterday. It's bad policy today," said Romney, who reiterated his vow to move to repeal the law on day one in the White House, if elected.
"We don't have to accept 'Obamacare,'" said House Speaker John Boehner in a message on his Twitter account. "The House will continue to fight for full repeal."
"House Republicans remain committed to FullRepeal of the president's healthcare law and all its tax hikes, fees and mandates."
Leading Republican Eric Cantor yesterday urged the party base to voice their rejection come November.
"The people of America are going to have a choice to make in November, and clearly it's a choice that will bear upon the direction of this country, as far as their health care is concerned," said Cantor as he told the party's conservative base to get fired up for the presidential election.
Former Republican presidential candidate and ultra-conservative Tea Party favourite Michele Bachmann was equally perturbed.
"There will be a black cloud over any prospect of economic recovery in this country," she said.
"This court has forced us now to pay for their utopian dreams," she added. "Ones we simply can't afford to pay for."
Romney's pointwoman in Congress, Republican Representative Cathy McMorris-Rogers, also voiced her rejection saying "while we respect the court, we respectfully disagree with the decision", before laying into the legislation with: "It's a terrible law. Unprecedented government power, fundamentally changing the relationship between the individual and government."
"I'm moving to Canada. Obviously the United States doesn't know what they are doing anymore. This used to be a great country... Pretty sad," read a tweet from Casey W, one of several "Obamacare" opponents who reckoned moving to a country with similar universal health coverage was somehow the correct, angry response.
But supporters of the decision were equally strident.
"It is as big an act as killing Osama bin Laden in terms of giving his presidency a temporary boost," Stephen Ryan, former general counsel of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs,
"Paediatricians have already seen firsthand that health reform works," said American Academy of Pediatrics president Robert Block, who hailed the ruling for its protection of children's health.
"Since the Affordable Care Act took effect, millions of children with pre-existing conditions gained healthcare coverage," he said.
"Our number one goal is to keep children healthy, and we can now do so knowing that a landmark law prioritises children's health needs."