The US Supreme Court has backed a historic but contested universal healthcare law, also known as "Obamacare." Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has vowed to repeal it.
The United States Supreme Court on Thursday said it upholds President Barack Obama's law, which makes it obligatory for most Americans to have health insurance.
"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," Obama said after the decision.
Nine Supreme Court justices engaged in almost six hours of oral debate over three days in March to discuss the law, the longest time dedicated to a single issue.
"More people have paid attention to this case than any other case in recent memory, probably with the exception of Bush versus Gore," Paul Clement, who represented the law's challengers during the case, told reporters last week.
The Supreme Court's decision was announced after US healthcare shares fell modestly, by approximately half a percentage on Thursday. Pharmaceutical producer Johnson & Johnson fell 0.3 percent, while Pfizer went down 0.5 percent.
Contested by the Republicans
The United States is the only industrialized democracy in the world without universal healthcare coverage, something that supporters of the law consistently point out. But the issue of healthcare is politically toxic, with many opposed to it becoming compulsory.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has pledged to repeal Obamacare if he is elected president.
"This is a time of choice for the American people. If we're going get rid of Obamacare we're going to have to replace President Obama. My mission is to make sure we do exactly that," he said following the decision.
The Republicans contest the healthcare law, which they claim will be expensive, compromise healthcare quality and increase insurance premiums.
sej/ccp (AFP, Reuters)