18 Republican-led states led the latest challenge to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). They brought their case before the Supreme Court, where the case was dismissed earlier this summer in a 7-2 opinion. The ACA, which made significant and far-reaching changes to how health insurance is priced, purchased, and used in America, is Barak Obama’s signature piece of legislation. It is commonly referred to as “Obamacare.”
ACA was put in place by the Obama administration back in 2010 and has been challenged by opponents several times in the ensuing decade. Republicans usually question the constitutionality of the individual mandate, which was included in the original legislation and required people to either purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. Supporters of the ACA maintained the mandate wasn’t a tax, but citizens were required to report their status of insurance on tax forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service each year after the Act’s passage.
The individual mandate was dropped in 2017 under the Trump administration. In this latest court case, Republicans argued that the individual mandate was such a key part of the entire piece of legislation that if it was eliminated, the rest of the Act needed to be rendered null and void as well. The justices allowed that severing one piece of the ACA didn’t negate the constitutionality of the rest of it, and that it would remain in the rest of its entirety.
The ACA provides a wide variety of health insurance plans that people can shop for and purchase with subsidies available for those in lower income brackets. Shoppers are required to estimate their upcoming annual income if they choose to purchase a plan using a lower subsidized premium, then report their actual income and pay back a portion of their subsidy if necessary.
The ACA has been widely heralded by its supporters for allowing greater access to health insurance for millions more Americans. They cite the law’s elimination of discrimination against those with preexisting conditions as a primary benefit. Insurance premiums and deductibles both rose sharply soon after the ACA was put into effect.
Regardless of the pros and cons, it looks like the ACA is here to stay, sans the individual mandate.