On June 17th, the Supreme Court ruled in a 7-to-2 decision that the most recent lawsuit, California v. Texas, challenging the constitutionality of the “individual mandate” – and ultimately, the constitutionality of the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA) – does not deserve a ruling. The justices noted that the plaintiffs did not have a legal standing to bring the case — meaning they did not show any injury that a court of law could rule on.
The Court also chose not to answer the legal question of whether the “individual mandate” penalty tax was constitutional or not and subsequently did not opine on the constitutionality of the ACA itself. Although the Supreme Court side-stepped answering these legal questions, the significance of this ruling cannot be overstated. This ruling stands as precedent that any future legal challenge to the constitutionality of the ACA has very little, if any, chance of moving forward in a court of law.
Any future efforts to repeal the ACA can only be achieved through an act of Congress. For the next few years, with the support of the Biden White House, there is no chance that we will see any adverse legislation enacted any time soon. This means that the ACA will remain the law of the land for the foreseeable future, allowing Americans to access to cost saving tax credits, essential health benefits, and the ability to shop for coverage on state marketplaces and federal exchange, the healthcare.gov.
Because of this lawsuit and previous challenges to the ACA, some states have been hesitant to set up a state-based marketplace — why invest the time and money if the Affordable Care Act would be repealed? But this is no longer the case. States that remain on healthcare.gov should consider transitioning to a state-based marketplace in order to gain the policy flexibility and savings the state-based marketplace affords them.