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Affordable Care Act Survives Another Attack

06/17/2021 Written by: Nathanael M. Alexander, Esq.

On June 17, 2021 the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) rejected a lawsuit which sought to challenge the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Yesterday’s ruling was in response to two individuals and over a dozen States, including California and Texas, that had filed suit to challenge the legitimacy of the ACA absent the individual mandate penalty. In a 7-2 ruling, with Justices Alito and Gorsuch dissenting, the SCOTUS determined that these plaintiffs did not have standing to sue and challenge the constitutionality of the ACA, as neither the plaintiffs nor the states could illustrate that they suffered any injury as a result of the elimination of the individual mandate.

Yesterday’s ruling represents the third major instance in which the SCOTUS has been faced with a direct challenge to the ACA, with Justice Alito referring to this most recent test as “the third installment in our epic Affordable Care Act trilogy…” of which the Court has once again rescued. Yesterday, just like the preceding SCOTUS rulings on the subject, ended with the Justices declining to declare the ACA as unconstitutional. However, absent from the decision was any further determination beyond the lack of standing for these particular plaintiffs, as the Court declined to issue an opinion regarding the validity of the ACA or its ability to stand sans the individual mandate. Although the Court’s perceived reluctance to delve any further into those matters can certainly be viewed as a positive outcome for proponents of the ACA.

It is surely possible that the Court will be faced with another challenge to the ACA in the coming years, but it is not unfathomable to imagine a world in which this has been put to rest since it has been met with increasingly diminishing returns as a political issue. As always, we will stay tuned to any developments. 

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