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The Supreme Court Affirms ACA is Here to Stay

Facing challenges is not new to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, the latest chapter finds the Supreme Court deciding whether the individual mandate [§5000A of the ACA], along with the entire ACA, is unconstitutional. The escalation to the Supreme Court follows the district appellate court ruling confirming that the entire ACA is unconstitutional.

The argument, started long ago and fueled by the zeroing out of the penalty associated with the failure for individuals to carry health insurance, comes to an abrupt halt today. The Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) finds in a 7-2 decision that the parties bringing the challenge have no standing to sue. In other words, the case itself is invalid because the parties cannot prove that there is any harm.

Note: Standing to sue refers to a legal principle where a party is entitled to have a court decide his/her merits of the case. Under this doctrine, a party is entitled to obtain judicial resolution. In the U.S., there are many requirements that a party must establish to have standing before a federal court. The following are some of the requirements recognized under the doctrine: injury; cause; and redressability.

The decision specifically states:

  • Plaintiffs do not have the 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, forcing the specific statutory provision they attack as unconstitutional.
    • No plaintiff has shown such an injury “fairly traceable” to the “allegedly unlawful conduct” challenged here. [Injury]
    • The two individual plaintiffs claim a particularized individual harm in the form of past and future payments necessary to carry the minimum essential coverage that §5000A(a) requires… this pocketbook injury… is not “fairly traceable” to any “allegedly unlawful conduct” of which the plaintiff's complaint. [Cause]

As a result, the ACA stays the law of the land with no change. As to whether other challenges arise, time will tell, but we know that this Supreme Court will be sure to continue to measure injury and cause in the validity of any future challenge.

Never miss an update: View this article for more information on the future of the Affordable Care Act. Check back for new updates, developments and the impact of the ACA on your business.