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Supreme Court to Again Consider Affordable Care Act

In early March, the Supreme Court announced that it will again hear arguments regarding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. The original case, Texas v. United States, was initially decided by a Texas district court after Republican state attorneys general and governors filed suit challenging the law. The district court agreed with the challenge by holding that the individual mandate was no longer a constitutional exercise of Congress’s taxing power because the tax penalty for failing to maintain individual health coverage had been reduced by Congress to zero dollars. The Fifth Circuit agreed with the district court, but remanded the case back to the lower court to decide if the entire ACA should be struck down, or alternatively if the individual mandate provision could be independently struck down leaving the bulk of the law in place. Meanwhile, a group of Democratic attorneys general and governors and the U.S. House of Representatives appealed the Fifth Circuit’s decision to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court agreed to hear that appeal as California v. Texas. The Court will consider the constitutionality of the individual mandate, whether it can be severed from the rest of the ACA if it is determined to be unconstitutional, and if the plaintiffs even have legal standing to bring the case. Both sides will submit written briefs to the Supreme Court through summer 2020, with oral arguments likely scheduled in October 2020 and a final decision issued in summer 2021.

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