HealthDay News — The landmark Affordable Care Act, which has expanded health care coverage to tens of millions of Americans, has withstood a third challenge before the US Supreme Court.
In a 7 to 2 decision, a majority of justices ruled on Thursday that plaintiffs involved in the case did not sustain any injury that gave them standing to sue, The New York Times reported. The decision left unresolved a larger issue, namely whether the Obama-era law could continue without a provision that initially mandated that Americans obtain insurance or pay a penalty.
The American Medical Association (AMA) applauded the ruling: “Today’s decision by the US Supreme Court is a victory for patients and for the gains in health care coverage achieved through the Affordable Care Act,” Gerald Harmon, MD, president of the AMA, said in a statement. “With yet another court decision upholding the ACA now behind us, we remain committed to strengthening the current law and look forward to policymakers advancing solutions to improve the ACA.”
The case deliberated this time by the 9 justices on the court was California vs. Texas, No. 19-840. According to The Times, the case was brought forward by Republican officials. They claimed that the ACA mandate requiring coverage became unconstitutional following Congressional action in 2017 to eliminate the penalty for failing to get coverage. According to the plaintiffs, the mandate could therefore no longer be justified as a tax.
That argument was based on a 5 to 4 SCOTUS ruling in 2012, which found that the mandate was authorized by Congress’s power to assess taxes. Based on that argument, the new challenge had made its way successfully through lower courts. But the high court found that no injury to the plaintiffs was incurred in eliminating the mandate and ruled against the latest challenge.