The Supreme Court has, again, decided to preserve the Affordable Care Act, ensuring Thursday that millions of Americans will keep their federal health insurance.
The justices voted 7-2 that plaintiffs challenging the the Obama-era health care legislation had not been harmed by the Affordable Care Act, and therefore didn’t have the right to bring lawsuit in the first place.
- “They (the plaintiffs) have failed to show that they have standing to attack as unconstitutional the Act’s minimum essential coverage provision,” Associate Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the majority opinion.
- “This Court has gone to great lengths to rescue the Act from its own text,” Associate Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a concurring opinion, and that Thursday’s ruling was “not the consequence of the Court once again rescuing the Act, but rather of us adjudicating the particular claims the plaintiffs chose to bring.”
- Three conservative justices appointed by former President Donald Trump divided their votes, with Associate Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett joining the majority, while Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch joined Associate Justice Samuel Alito as the pair of dissents.
Today's SCOTUS ruling is a victory for all Americans, especially people with pre-existing conditions or anyone who was worried they could be forced to choose between their health and making ends meet. Health care should be a right -- not a privilege.— Secretary Xavier Becerra (@SecBecerra) June 17, 2021
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement Thursday that the “Supreme Court has made clear that the landmark Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. Today’s ruling is a victory for all Americans, especially people with a pre-existing condition or anyone who was worried they could be forced to choose between their health and making ends meet.”
- “Health care should be a right — not a privilege — just for the healthy and wealthy,” Becerra added.
Why states filed a lawsuit against the ACA
The lawsuit, filed by 18 Republican-led states and two individuals “was brought by Republican officials who said the mandate requiring health insurance coverage became unconstitutional after Congress in 2017 eliminated the penalty for failing to obtain coverage because the mandate could no longer be justified as a tax,” The New York Times’ Adam Liptak reported.
- “The elimination of the penalty had become the hook that Texas and other Republican-led states, as well as the Trump administration, used to attack the entire law. They argued that without the mandate, a pillar of the law when it was passed in 2010, the rest of the law should fall, too,” according to The Associated Press.
- This was the third major legal challenge — with earlier cases in 2012 and 2015 — against former President Barrack Obama’s major domestic policy of creating a federal health care program, according to The New York Times.
- If the ACA is struck down, around 21 million people in the United States will lose their health insurance, the Times reported.