Sat | Nov 27, 2021
United States

‘Obamacare’ survives: Supreme Court dismisses big challenge

Published:Friday | June 18, 2021 | 1:01 AM


The Supreme Court, though increasingly conservative in make-up, rejected the latest major Republican-led effort to kill the national healthcare law known as ‘Obamacare’ on Thursday, preserving insurance coverage for millions of Americans.

The justices, by a seven-two vote, left the entire Affordable Care Act intact in ruling that Texas, other GOP-led states and two individuals had no right to bring their lawsuit in federal court. The Biden administration says 31 million people have health insurance because of the law, which also survived two earlier challenges in the Supreme Court.

The law’s major provisions include protections for people with existing health conditions, a range of no-cost preventive services, expansion of the Medicaid programme that insures lower-income people and access to health insurance markets offering subsidised plans.

“The Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land,” President Joe Biden said, celebrating the ruling. He called for building further on the law that was enacted in 2010 when he was vice-president.

Also left in place is the law’s now-toothless requirement that people have health insurance or pay a penalty. Congress rendered that provision irrelevant in 2017 when it reduced the penalty to zero.

The elimination of the penalty had become the hook that Texas and other GOP-led states, as well as the Trump administration, used to attack the entire law. They argued that without the mandate, a pillar of the law when it was passed, the rest of the law should fall, too.

And with a Supreme Court that includes three appointees of former President Donald Trump, opponents of ‘Obamacare’ hoped a majority of the justices would finally kill the law they have been fighting for more than a decade.

But the third major attack on the law at the Supreme Court ended the way the first two did, with a majority of the court rebuffing efforts to gut the law or get rid of it altogether.

Trump’s appointees – Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh – split their votes. Kavanaugh and Barrett joined the majority. Gorsuch was in dissent, signing on to an opinion from Justice Samuel Alito.