On Thursday, the United States Supreme Court rejected another Republican challenge to Obamacare. This decision allows the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to stand despite objections from the GOP on its constitutionality.
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7-2 Ruling In Favor Of Obamacare
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the ACA with a 7-2 vote. However, the ruling did not actually delve into the merits of the legal issues raised by the plaintiffs.
Instead, the courts simply declared that the conservative states that filed the suit do not have standing. Specifically, the states will not incur any damages from the continued implementation of the ACA.
Democrats immediately hailed the SC’s decision, saying it confirms the permanency of the controversial law. The ACA, centerpiece legislation of former President Barack Obama’s policy agenda.
The former President tweeted a message after the decision. “This ruling reaffirms what we have long known to be true: the Affordable Care Act is here to stay,” he posted.
President Joe Biden also chimed in, tweeting that “With millions of people relying on the Affordable Care Act for coverage, it remains, as ever, a BFD. And it’s here to stay.”
Republicans gallantly challenged the Affordable Care Act since it came into law in 2010. GOP members mounted a challenge to the law in 2012 and in 2015, both of which were struck down by the Supreme Court.
In particular, the latest challenge questioned the requirement that every American should obtain insurance coverage (the individual mandate) or pay a penalty.
The congressional power to collect taxes gave the ACA the mandate to impose penalties. However, Texas AG Ken Paxton argued that the tax stopped when then-President Donald Trump signed a 2017 law reducing the tax to zero.
After Trump’s removal of the tax, Texas and 17 other states asked the courts to throw out the rest of Obamacare. Its provisions, including protections for Americans with preexisting conditions plus no lifetime benefit caps, only work on the assumption that all Americans avail the ACA. With the penalty for noncompliance falling to zero, Americans who do not want coverage do not have any incentive to enroll.
Supreme Court Ignores Arguments
However, the Supreme Court didn’t dive into Paxton’s arguments. Instead, the court simply stated that the states that filed suit do not have the right to do so.
Specifically, the states sued because they didn’t want to pay a share for the cost of new enrollees in Medicaid. However, with the penalties removed, the states cannot reasonably say they need to pay more.
Surprisingly, even as the High Court is replete with associates that lean to the right, the majority decision included both conservative and liberal justices.
Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett sided with Associate Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the majority.
In contrast, Associate Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch signed their dissent. “Neither logic nor intuition suggests that the presence of the minimum essential coverage requirement would lead an individual to enroll in one of those programs that its absence would lead them to ignore.
A penalty might have led some inertia-bound individuals to enroll. But without a penalty, what incentive could the provision provide? wrote Breyer.
Republicans Up In Arms
Expectedly, Republicans didn’t take to the decision kindly. They noted that the high court ignored all their arguments in favor of the ACA.
Paxton said the court is to blame for ignoring the constitutionality of the whole law. Allowing the health care law to remain in force “spells doom for the principles of federalism and limited government.”
Meanwhile, Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) said that Congress should consider 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.
Watch the ABC News video reporting that in its latest ruling, the Supreme Court upholds Obamacare:
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