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With the Supreme Court ruling Thursday to uphold major tenets of the Affordable Care Act, some clarity is finally emerging for employers and providers, but the political battle over health care reform will likely continue.

At the heart of the ruling is the court's determination that the individual mandate, which will require most citizens to purchase health insurance or face a fine, is constitutional because it is essentially a tax, which the federal government has the right to levy on interstate commerce.

Opponents of the law had maintained that the mandate violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution because it forced people to purchase a product they may not have wanted or needed.

But Chief Justice John Roberts, in the majority opinion, said while Congress does not have the right to force people to purchase insurance, it does, in fact, have the right to imposes a tax on those who don't purchase insurance because it's not a requirement, but a tax.

"Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness," Justice Roberts wrote.

The decision means the huge overhaul, still only partly in effect, will proceed and pick up momentum over the next several years, affecting the way that countless Americans receive and pay for their personal medical care.

The court's four liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, joined Justice Roberts in the outcome.

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