(HealthDay News) — The U.S. Supreme Court voted June 28 to uphold the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which has been the subject of debate and multiple lawsuits since its 2010 inception.

The court’s 5-to-4 vote will allow the law, also known as “Obamacare,” to move toward its goal of extending health coverage to the 30 million Americans currently without insurance, partly by supporting the component of the PPACA that requires all Americans to obtain health insurance (known as the “individual mandate”) or pay a penalty tax for failing to do so.

While many Republicans have viewed the law as an intrusive demand on private citizens to purchase a product, i.e., health insurance, many Democrats have supported the law in anticipation of its potential to extend coverage to more people, improve health care, and contain costs.

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“By upholding the law, the nation’s highest court has sent a clear message that patients should be the first priority in an ever-changing health care arena,” Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, said in a statement. “The court’s action in support of the Affordable Care Act helps remind us what’s really important — enabling all Americans to obtain affordable, quality health care.”

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