Analysis: Obamacare survives third failed attack before Supreme Court

Jun 23, 2021, 5:52 PM
affordable care act obamacare supreme court...
The Healthcare.gov website, set up as part of the Affordable Care Act, which a Texas federal judge declared "unconstitutional" in 2018. The Supreme Court three times upheld provisions of the ACA and dismissed challenges against it. (Photo: Jon Elswick, Associated Press)
(Photo: Jon Elswick, Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s a swing and a miss as Republicans strike out against Obamacare — again — before the US Supreme Court.

The justices voted 7 to 2 Thursday to keep the Affordable Care Act, the national health-care law, in place, preserving health care insurance for 31 million Americans.

They ruled that the plaintiffs — 18 Republican-led states and two individuals —  had not been harmed by the ACA and therefore didn’t have the right to sue; i.e., they failed to showing standing before the court.

Obamacare background

  • Under the ACA, insurers may not deny coverage (or charge higher rates) to any individual based on pre-existing medical conditions or gender.
  • Originally, the individual mandate of the ACA required all Americans to obtain insurance or pay a penalty, which rose rise to a minimum of $695 ($2,085 for families) in 2016. But a Republican-controlled Congress reduced that penalty to $0 in 2017.

Supreme Court ruling and analysis

Inside Sources host Boyd Matheson discussed the court’s ruling with KSL NewsRadio’s Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic.

“So what the justices ultimately said is because the state of Texas, with the backing of other attorneys general . . . aren’t a patient who was harmed by [the ACA]; they aren’t a doctor who was harmed by this; Texas has no standing, and so therefore, the justices upheld the Affordable Care Act in its entirely,” Debbie said.

“I think it’s important to note that this does not end the debate, nor does it end lawsuits surrounding the Affordable Care Act. This is not the final word on this issue for sure,” said Boyd. “There were two individuals from Texas who joined the suit with these attorneys general. But again, because Congress set the penalty at zero, they haven’t incurred any suffering or harm because of [the ACA].”

Surprising support from conservative justice?

“It’s also interesting to note that it was the Chief Justice John Roberts who actually rewrote the law, not once but twice in order to save [the ACA] because initially it was a penalty, and they changed into a tax so that it would stand. We got the Supreme Court rewriting the laws — that’s not quite their job, that’s another branch of government,” Boyd said.

“It is an irony that a Republican-controlled Congress amended this law in a manner that effectively saved it,” noted University of Utah law professor Clifford Rosky, speaking on Inside Sources during a separate podcast about the recent Supreme Court ruling about the ACA.


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.  

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Analysis: Obamacare survives third failed attack before Supreme Court