Comp News – The Supreme Court returned its ruling on a third landmark challenge to the Affordable Care Act in a decade, upholding the individual coverage mandate that has been the source of several past legal challenges.

In a 7-2 ruling, the court held that the individual states suing over the law did not have the legal standing to do so.

After upholding the law in 2012 and again in 2015, the court was faced with a new challenge to the requirement that every American obtain insurance coverage, known as the individual mandate, or pay a penalty. 

 

The penalty was initially upheld under Congress’ constitutional power to levy a tax, but the Republican attorney general in Texas, Ken Paxton, argued it stopped being a tax once President Donald Trump signed a law in 2017 cutting it to zero.       

 

Texas, joined by 17 other states, didn’t stop there: It told the court that the rest of Obamacare also had to be thrown out because its other provisions – such as protections for people with preexisting conditions and the prohibition on lifetime benefit caps – rested on the requirement that all Americans obtain health coverage in some form. 

 

But the nation’s highest court never even got to those questions in its opinion Thursday.Instead, it held that the states that filed the suit lacked the right to do so.    

 

“We do not reach these questions of the act’s validity, however, for Texas and the other plaintiffs in this suit lack the standing necessary to raise them,” Associate Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the majority. 

Numerous Democrats have praised the decision, including President Joe Biden, who tweeted that the “With millions of people relying on the Affordable Care Act for coverage, it remains, as ever, a BFD.” (a coy reference to his infamous hot mic moment in 2010).

Republicans have signaled their displeasure at the ruling, noting that the Affordable Care Act should be tackled again through other avenues.

Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., said that Congress “must focus on reforms” to change the law. 

 

“The Obamacare individual mandate – a provision that forces someone to purchase insurance whether they want to or not – is unconstitutional,” Hagerty asserted.

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