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US Supreme Court rejects Trump-backed challenge to Obamacare

US Supreme Court

As a result of zeroing out of the penalty, Texas and a group of other states-in addition to two men who did not want to purchase health insurance- argued that the mandate was unconstitutional because it could no longer be construed as a tax. The individual mandate, Mr Paxton wrote on Twitter, "was unconstitutional when it was enacted and it is still unconstitutional".

© Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images, FILE A demonstrator holds a sign in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., November 10, 2020, as the high court opened arguments in the long-brewing case over the constitutionality of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta, leading a coalition of 20 states and the District of Columbia, hailed today's ruling in California v. Texas, known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Repeal Lawsuit, as a victory for the health and wellbeing of every single American. Justice Stephen Breyer noted that the individual mandate was effectively unenforceable without an attached penalty and therefore did not cause harm.

"Today's U.S. Supreme Court decision is a major victory for all Americans benefitting from this groundbreaking and life-changing law", President Joe Biden said in a statement.

Former US President Barack Obama.

On Thursday, Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett - both appointed by former President Trump - joined the Chief Justice, as well as Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Thomas, and Breyer, in upholding the ACA.

Noting the current Supreme Court's even more conservative makeup than during past challenges, Isasi added that the court's "strong opinion will nearly certainly foreclose other craven, ideological lawsuits". "But the legislature is where future battles about health care are likely to play out rather than the courts and the Supreme Court, in particular", she said. Gorsuch was in dissent, signing on to an opinion from Justice Samuel Alito.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said the lawsuit was "an invitation to judicial activism from the start".

Mr Biden's administration in February urged the Supreme Court to uphold Obamacare, reversing the position taken by the government under Mr Trump, who left office in January.

If Obamacare had been struck down, up to 20 million Americans stood to lose medical insurance and insurers again could have refused to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions. His giant COVID-19 relief bill significantly increased subsidies for private health plans offered through the ACA's insurance markets, while also dangling higher federal payments before the dozen states that have declined the law's Medicaid expansion. Our AMA is committed to working with Congress and the Biden administration to achieve further advancements, such as making cost-sharing help more generous and available to more people, providing a coverage pathway to residents in states that have not expanded Medicaid who qualify for neither Medicaid nor ACA marketplace coverage, and fixing the ACA's "family glitch". He and other Democrats had criticized Republican efforts to strike down the law at a time when the US was grappling with a deadly coronavirus pandemic.

The Supreme Court has a 6-3 conservative majority but the Republican Obamacare challengers still came away disappointed in a ruling in which all three liberal justices were joined by four of the six conservative justices. Opposition to Obamacare seems to have receded as a political issue for many Republicans as their party has emphasised other matters such as immigration, voting restrictions and hot-button "culture war" issues.

The Republican-led Congress cut the tax penalty for those who lacked insurance to zero as part of the year-end tax overhaul.

Roberts cast the key vote in a 5-4 decision that stunned Republicans, holding that the law's individual coverage mandate was valid under Congress' taxing power.

The impetus for the Supreme Court case was a 2018 ruling by a federal judge in Texas that Obamacare as structured following the 2017 change violated the Constitution and was invalid in its entirety.