White House Image by By Phil Roeder under CC BY License.

In a 7-2 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld, again, the Affordable Care Act. Texas and other states had sued to overturn it. The court’s opinion, written by Justice Stephen Breyer, said that plaintiffs had argued that without the noncompliance penalty, which had been stripped from the act, the entire law was unconstitutional.

But Breyer wrote, “Plaintiffs do not have standing to challenge §5000A(a)’s minimum essential coverage provision because they have not shown a past or future injury fairly traceable to defendants’ conduct enforcing the specific statutory provision they attack as unconstitutional.” Whether the argument held up was not even discussed: “We proceed no further than standing.”

Concurring with Breyer were Justices John G. Roberts Jr., Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Justice Clarence Thomas also concurred, writing his own opinion. Justice Samuel A. Alito wrote a dissenting opinion, in which Justice Neil M. Gorsuch joined.

The entire decision, with dissenting and concurring opinions, runs over 50 pages. Further analysis is available from the SCOTUSblog.

However, commentary from the Society for Human Resource Management summed it up in one sentence: “Employers should note that the health care law remains fully in effect, including all coverage obligations and reporting requirements.”

The ACA Hits a Record

In a release issued earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a new report showing 31 million Americans have health coverage through the ACA, which the HHS says is a record. “The report also shows that there have been reductions in uninsurance rates in every state in the country since the law’s coverage expansions took effect. People served by the health Marketplaces and Medicaid expansion have reached record highs.”

 

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