What You Need to Know
- The court ruled 7-2 that Texas and other states that oppose the ACA system have no standing to sue over the ACA individual coverage ownership mandate.
- Stephen Lucke says the majority went to great lengths to save the ACA.
- Another health policy watcher says the next big health policy news will be about federal surprising billing law regulations.
A health care lawyer says the new U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act is about more than procedural rules.
Stephen Lucke, a partner at law firm of Dorsey & Whitney and the co-chair of the firm’s health litigation group, contends in a commentary on the ruling that the court majority clearly meant to keep the ACA in place.
California v. Texas Background
Texas, other states that oppose the ACA and two self-employed Texas residents went to court in an effort to block the ACA “individual shared responsibility” provision, or individual coverage mandate. The provision requires some people to have what the government classifies as “minimum essential coverage,” or adequate health coverage, or else pay a penalty.
Congress set the penalty at zero, in a provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
Texas and other members of its coalition argued that the provision is an unconstitutional requirement for affected people to buy a commercial product.
Supreme Court members ruled 7-2 Thursday, in the case California v. Texas (Case Number 19-840), that the federal health law can stay in place, because the zeroed-out mandate can do the states and individual plaintiffs no injury that’s traceable to the mandate.
Because the mandate provision can cause Texas and the other plaintiffs no harm, those plaintiffs have no standing to sue over the provision’s constitutionality, the majority contended.
Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the opinion for the majority.
Justice Clarence Thomas sided with the majority and wrote a concurring opinion.
Justice Samuel Alito Jr. opposed the ruling and wrote a dissenting opinion.