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Supreme Court to hear ACA case after presidential election

At the heart of the legal battle is whether the ACA can stand without the tax mandate for individuals to have health insurance.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case of the legality of the Affordable Care Act a week after the presidential election.

The case California v. Texas is set for Tuesday, November 10, a week after the November 3 election, according to the court docket schedule.

WHY THIS MATTERS

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The legal fight over President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law has been a political battle from the start. 

The outcome has ramifications for the 20 million consumers who are covered under the ACA, insurers that have invested in the market and hospitals that want to avoid more revenue instability caused by greater numbers for uninsured care.

Payers and providers have voiced their support for the ACA.

In January, America's Health Insurance Plans – and separately, 33 state hospital associations, the American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, Catholic Health Association of the United States, Association of American Medical Colleges, and America's Essential Hospitals – filed amicus, friend-of-the-court briefs urging the Supreme Court for timely review of the validity of the law before the end of the term in June.

Also in January, the attorneys general in 20 Democratic states asked the Supreme Court to expedite review of the appeals court decision before the end of the its term in June.  

The Department of Justice and Republican states that brought the original lawsuit countered that there was no reason for expediency.

THE LARGER TREND

At the heart of the legal battle is whether the ACA can stand without the tax mandate for individuals to have health insurance.

The Supreme Court had previously ruled that the ACA was valid due to Congress's ability to apply a tax penalty to individuals who did not get insurance coverage. Without that tax penalty, the ACA was invalid, argued Texas and other states, which won their lawsuit in district court. The district court in Texas declared the ACA was unconstitutional.
An appeals court sent the case back to the district court. 

The Trump Administration has been working to dismantle the law.

In August President Trump said he would sign an executive order requiring health insurances to cover preexisting conditions, a mandate already in place under the ACA.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com