The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday said it will hear the case attempting to overturn the Affordable Care Act, a win for blue states pushing for the high court to weigh in and potentially thrusting the health law into the 2020 presidential election campaign.
The decision means the justices will add the case to their schedule for the next term, which starts in October. A final decision on the fate of the landmark that ushered in health insurance coverage for millions of Americans and reshaped the industry likely would be rendered sometime next year.
"Saddle up, people. The Supreme Court will take its third shot at the Affordable Care Act," Nicholas Bagley, a health law expert and professor at the University of Michigan, tweeted Monday.
The health insurance lobby applauded the high court's decision Monday, which the group said will alleviate the legal uncertainty that continues to undermine the law.
"We are confident that the Supreme Court will agree that the district court's original decision to invalidate the entire ACA was misguided and wrong, and that zeroing out the mandate was never intended to wreak havoc across the entire American health care system," America's Health Insurance Plans said in a statement.
The lawsuit to strike down the nearly 10 year old law was brought by a group of primarily red states led by Texas. The central argument centers on whether the law is invalid because it no longer contains the financial penalty that was levied against those for not purchasing health insurance coverage. Congress later changed the penalty to zero and because of that the courts have said the mandate can no longer be considered a tax.
The key legal question is whether the rest of the law could stand without the mandate, or whether the remainder of the law could be severed from it.
A lower court ruled the individual mandate was unconstitutional and "inseverable" from the rest of the law, striking down the Obama-era law.
A federal appeals court later upheld the lower court's ruling in part. The appeals court agreed the mandate was unconstitutional but punted the question about whether the rest of the law could stand without it back to the lower court.
A coalition of blue states, led by California's Attorney General Xavier Becerra, stepped in to defend the law as President Donald Trump’s administration has declined to defend it in court.
Becerra then appealed the decision to the Supreme Court and asked the court for an expedited review, which the high court declined in January.
In a statement Monday, Becerra cheered the news from the high court and said more should be done to improve healthcare instead of tearing it away.
"As Texas and the Trump Administration fight to disrupt our healthcare system and the coverage that millions of people rely upon, we look forward to making our case in defense of the ACA. American lives depend upon it," he said.