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I'm Still Standing... The Affordable Care Act Survives Latest Challenge

Insights | I'm Still Standing... The Affordable Care Act Survives Latest Challenge

Author: Shelly Hodges-Konys, CBC, Director of Compliance

In another highly anticipated decision, the Supreme Court dismissed the most recent challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) upholding the law once again. In a majority decision (7-2), the Court found that the plaintiffs lacked standing in the case. To bring a lawsuit, a plaintiff must show that they have suffered an injury to their own legal interests known as “standing”.

The Supreme Court found that the plaintiffs had not suffered harm by the enforcement of the individual mandate under the ACA because Texas and other Republican-led states were not required to pay anything under the ACA’s individual mandate provision. When a party lacks standing, a case may go no further. For now, the ACA remains the law of the land and employers must comply with the law’s employer-shared-responsibility provisions and reporting requirements. 

At issue in the case was the individual mandate and whether it could legally be considered a tax given that Congress had reduced the penalty to $0 back in 2017. Without a penalty, challengers argued that the provision was no longer a tax and was therefore unconstitutional. They further argued that the individual mandate is so ingrained in the rest of the law, that the entire law must be ruled invalid.  

The justices did not address any other issues of the case – whether the individual mandate is a true mandate and not a tax and whether the ACA could remain in place without the individual mandate. This is the third legal challenge to the ACA and may not be the last.  But, it appears that any future change to the ACA may be most likely to occur through an act of Congress. 

Please contact your HORAN Account Representative with any questions about the Court’s decision.