29 Jun 2012

US top court upholds healthcare reforms

8:48 pm on 29 June 2012

In a landmark decision, the US Supreme Court has upheld President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law.

The court upheld a core requirement, known as the individual mandate, that Americans buy insurance or pay a fine, the BBC reports.

Of the nine justices on the bench, Chief Justice John Roberts' vote was decisive in the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling in favour of the law.

The ruling comes months before the US election, with Republicans vowing to push for a repeal of the bill.

Speaking afterwards, President Obama called the court's decision a victory for the country, saying people would not need to "hang their fortunes on chance" or fear financial ruin if they became sick.

Healthcare is a deeply polarising issue in the US and Republicans strongly opposed Mr Obama's legislation, the BBC says.

The state of Florida, along with 12 other states, had filed a legal challenge to the bill immediately after Mr Obama signed The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law in March 2010.

They were later joined by 13 more states, the National Federation of Independent Businesses and several individuals.

The Republican Party's contender for the American presidency, Mitt Romney, has vowed to repeal Mr Obama's healthcare legislation on his first day in office if elected in November.

Republicans say it contravenes the US constitution by forcing some people to buy health insurance.

Mr Romney says the issue will be central to the upcoming election.