- The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday denied motions to quickly hear the controversial case that seeks to overturn the Affordable Care Act, dealing a blow to the blue states that had hoped the high court would step in.
- Without intervention from the Supreme Court, the case will likely return to a lower court, a decision that is sure to upset the industry, which has argued that sending the case back down will add years to the proceedings.
- Industry groups were hoping the case would be heard before November's election. It's possible the high court could decide to hear the case at a later date, but with the law's fate still in limbo, the ACA is likely to dominate another presidential campaign cycle.
In a one-sentence order, the Supreme Court said Tuesday it will not rush to decide whether the landmark health law can stand. Though the law remains in place, the legal suit threatens access to insurance coverage and care for millions of Americans.
When Congress scaled back the financial penalty for forgoing insurance to zero, essentially removing the teeth from the individual mandate, that action rendered the individual mandate unconstitutional and the entire law, a coalition of red states has argued in court.
Because the individual mandate can no longer be considered a tax, the entirety of the law must fall, the red states have argued. The lower district court agreed.
The appellate court did affirm the lower court's decision in part, finding that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. However, it avoided answering the key question in the case about whether the remainder of the ACA can stand without the individual mandate.
"The individual mandate is unconstitutional because it can no longer be read as a tax," the majority wrote in the appellate case ruling. But they added, "on the severability question we remand to the district court to provide additional analysis."
Remanding the case to lower court could add additional years to the case. Hospitals and insurers have argued that without a resolution, it "casts a long shadow of uncertainty over ACA-based investments," as America's Health Insurance Plans said in its brief.
The ACA was a pivotal piece of legislation under President Barack Obama that reshaped the nation's healthcare system and significantly decreased the ranks of the uninsured.