The U.S. Supreme Court Thursday upheld the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature health care law, including the so-called individual mandate, which requires adults to purchase health insurance.
In a 5-4 vote, the court ruled that the individual mandate law is constitutional -- not under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, but under Congress' powers of taxation.
Chief Justice John Roberts joined the liberal jurists to make a majority.
"We do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies," Roberts says in his opinion. "That judgment is entrusted to the Nation's elected leaders. We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the challenged provisions."
Read the full text of the Supreme Court's health care ruling.
However, the court also ruled that the federal government may encourage states to expand Medicaid programs, but cannot take away their existing Medicaid programs if they opt out.
California already prohibits insurers from denying health coverage to children with pre-existing conditions and allows parents to cover children through the age of 26. More than 7 million Californians -- nearly 20 percent of the state's population -- are uninsured.
Obama called the ruling a win for Americans, and urged the nation to move forward.
“The highest court in the land has now spoken,” he said in a brief address from the White House. “What we won’t do, what the country can’t afford to do, is re-fight the political battles of two years ago or go back to the way things were.”
However, House Republicans have vowed to repeal the law in its entirety July 11.
In his own response in the nation's capitol, presidential contender Mitt Romney said he supports the repeal, but also does not believe insurance companies should be able to discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions.
He "can't have it both ways," House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said in a short televised press conference.
Obama has said he modeled the law on one Romney had championed, then passed, as governor of Massachusetts.
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