The Affordable Care Act, popularly known as “Obamacare,” has survived another attack to have it declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court’s apex court. The latest was a ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) that rendered a majority ruling 7-2 in favor of the Act.
The ruling is a win for an estimated 30 million Americans, as it retained their health insurance coverage. Initially, “Obamacare” had a mandatory requirement to have all persons register for health services. Failure to register would lead to punitive sanctions. However, this was amended by Congress, and the penalty was entirely removed.
In challenging the Affordable Care Act, the Republicans struck an argument that since Congress had amended the Act to remove the sanction, then it follows that the entire act became null. They argued that the Act was premised upon the sanctions, and removing the penalties negated the whole law.
The Act has been challenged thrice, the first two attempts in 2012 and 2015. The Republicans and Trump supporters had hoped that the court would tilt in their favor, having had three justices appointed by former President Donald Trump. However, this was not to be. Justices Amy Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh voted with the majority, leaving Neil Gorsuch as the only dissenter.
In the latest installment, the majority decision by SCOTUS was led by Justice Stephen G. Breyer. The majority held that the 18 states and two individuals who had challenged the Affordable Care Act had no locus standi (legal right) to bring the matter to the Supreme Court.
In failing to discharge this important principle that would have invoked the jurisdiction of the SCOTUS to hear the matter, it was therefore dismissed. The court, in its ruling, stated that the plaintiffs had failed to demonstrate how “Obamacare” had interfered or infringed their rights; therefore, the matter was fit for dismissal.
It is essential to point out that the Supreme Court never dealt with the constitutionality or otherwise of the Act. They merely looked at whether the parties had the legal capacity to institute the suit.
After the Supreme Court ruling, former President Obama lauded the decision by the court and extended his support to President Biden in expanding the law. Had the plaintiffs been successful in challenging the law, the ripple effects of the decision would have been devastating.
According to Urban Institute, a whopping 21 million Americans would have been added to people who don’t have insurance in America. This would have been a 70% increase. Therefore, the decision to dismiss the suit has saved several families.
President Biden has been rapidly revamping health law to ensure that the entire population gets covered. Through the Covid-19 relief bill that provided subsidies/incentives to private health plans through “Obamacare”, there has been an increased uptake of medical insurance with approximately 1.2 million Americans signing up.
Finally, the decision by the Supreme Court is truly Solomonic as it has preserved the benefits that accrue from the Affordable Care Act. For instance, young adults are allowed to remain on their parent’s coverage until they are 26. Additionally, patients with chronic illnesses cannot be denied treatment based on their predisposition