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Supreme Court 2020 Watch on Health Insurance

Amid many other cases already announced for the second half of this Supreme Court Term is a request from a group of State Attorneys General, with the support of the U.S. House of Representatives, to weigh in on the future of the Affordable Care Act. Upheld in 2012 and again in 2015, the law is once again in doubt. 

At issue in the future of the ACA are not just the 20 million people who obtain their health insurance through the Exchanges, but also the millions more affected by other parts of the law, including Medicare drug copayments, requirements for calorie counts on menus, a pathway for approval of generic copies of expensive biologic drugs and, perhaps most important politically, protections for people with preexisting conditions.

One year ago, a U.S. District Court Judge in Texas ruled that the entire law should be struck down, since the individual mandate had been eliminated. 

Last month, with the support of the White House and Justice Department, the three-judge 5th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals in New Orleans issued a 2-1 decision agreeing, and sending it back to the lower court to determine whether there are any remnants at all of the law that could survive.

Rather than waiting, the Attorneys General of 19 States, including New York, filed a Petition on Writ of Cert. to determine among other issues, the severability of the individual mandate from the remainder of the ACA. 

The States of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington, join Kentucky, and the District of Columbia as intervenor-defendants in the district court and appellants in the court of appeals. The States of Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, and Nevada also intervene as defendants in the court of appeals. 

If the Supreme Court agrees to take the case and hear it in June, a decision would come just weeks before the 2020 Presidential election. 

"Hanging in the balance is not only health coverage for the roughly 20 million Americans directly served by the ACA, but also hundreds of millions more whose health care and coverage have been affected by the thousands of changes enacted in the law"


health, healthcare