Washington: The US Supreme Court on Thursday (local time) upheld the ObamaCare, or the Affordable Care Act (ACA) against the latest Republican challenge, allowing millions to keep their health insurance coverage amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a 7-2 decision, the nation’s highest court ruled that the GOP challengers lacked standing to sue, in a decision that marks the third major challenge to ObamaCare, to be rebuffed by the Supreme Court in roughly a decade, thus preserving the landmark law and its key protections for millions of people with pre-existing health conditions.
The case arose after 18 Republican states brought a legal challenge in 2018 aimed at striking down the ACA.
Led by Texas, the Grand Old Party (GOP) challengers focused on the ObamaCare tax penalty meant to induce the purchase of health insurance by most Americans. They argued that former President Trump’s 2017 tax cut, which zeroed out the penalty, made that provision unconstitutional.
Without the tax penalty, they argued, ObamaCare effectively lost its constitutional footing, requiring its invalidation by the court.
But the justices did not even address those issues in their decision.
“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,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the majority.
However, the lower courts had largely sided with the Republican states but agreed to delay enforcement of the ruling while appeals played out. ObamaCare’s defenders, comprising a coalition of 20 blue states and the Democratic-led House, appealed to the Supreme Court, as per The Hill.
The Justice Department under Trump backed the GOP states in urging the justices to strike down the law. But the Biden administration reversed course. The Biden administration recently announced that a record 31 million people were covered under the law.
Since the appointment of former US President Donald Trump in 2017, the Republican government had tried to strike down ObamaCare several times.
In 2017, a federal judge in Texas had struck down the Affordable Care Act, terming it “unconstitutional.” The judge stated that its mandate requiring people to buy health insurance is unconstitutional and the rest of the law cannot stand without it, CNN reported. In July, the Senate had voted to repeal the Obamacare medical device tax and in the same year, Trump had vowed to repeal and replace Obamacare after the Republican tax cut bill is signed into law.