The US Supreme Court has quashed the legal challenge brought by 18 states to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) popularly known as Obamacare. In a 7-2 ruling, the Supreme Court determined that the 18 Republican states that challenged the constitutionality of Obamacare lacked the power to challenge the action in court.
The two judges that voted against the decision of the apex court are Justice Samuel Alito and Justice Neil Gorsuch.
With the dismissal of the legal challenge on Thursday, the Affordable Care Act will remain operational in providing affordable healthcare coverage to Americans. According to Justice Stephen Breyer who wrote the court’s decision, Congress has diminished the penalty for not having a health insurance policy to zero and this makes any legal challenge to the act useless since it poses no harm to anyone.
“For these reasons, we conclude that the plaintiffs in this suit failed to show a concrete, particularized injury fairly traceable to the defendants’ conduct in enforcing the specific statutory provision they attack as unconstitutional,” Breyer wrote. “They have failed to show that they have the standing to attack as unconstitutional the Act’s minimum essential coverage provision.”
Former President Barack Obama hailed the decision of the Supreme Court as a victory for quality healthcare in the United States. He noted that millions of Americans will not have to pay more anymore for pre-existing conditions, and no one will be denied healthcare coverage on account of their financial status. He stated that the “principle of universal coverage has been established” and that the “Affordable Care Act is here to stay”.
Since Obamacare was passed in 2010, 31 million Americans have taken advantage to obtain healthcare coverage through it, the Department of Health and Human Services revealed. The agency also revealed that 11.3 million people have signed up for the program exchanges by February, and 14.8 million low-earners enrolled in Medicaid expansion as of December 2020. Another 1.2 million people got health insurance policies for 2021 from February to August and President Joe Biden extended coverage to uninsured people.
Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, who led the challenge against the ACA in the courts said he will continue to antagonize the act until it is abolished.
“If the government is allowed to mislead its citizens, pass a massive government takeover of healthcare, and yet still survive after Supreme Court review, this spells doom for the principles of Federalism and limited government,” Paxton tweeted.
Justice Samuel Alito noted that this is the third time the courts will be defending the ACA to keep it going. He said the Supreme Court has “pulled off an improbable rescue” in saving the healthcare program again, but that he is not impressed with the feat.
“Eighteen states that bear costly burdens under the ACA cannot even get a foot in the door to raise a constitutional challenge,” Alito stated. “So a tax that does not tax is allowed to stand and support one of the biggest government programs in our Nation’s history. Fans of judicial inventiveness will applaud once again. But I must respectfully dissent.”