Supreme Court Expected to Hold Off on Affordable Care Act Ruling

The House told the Supreme Court earlier this month that the Fifth Circuit court’s decision posed a “severe, immediate threat” to the orderly operation of health care markets.

The Trump administration and a coalition of states are not rushing the Supreme Court on a ruling for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), stating rather that the Supreme Court should reject a request to review a court decision that limited the ACA’s reach.

The House told the Supreme Court earlier this month that the Fifth Circuit decision posed a “severe, immediate threat” to the orderly operation of health care markets throughout the country, according to The Washington Post.1 The US Solicitor, Noel Francisco, disagreed, stating that the Fifth Circuit decision preserved the status quo until a lower court could examine which parts of the law should continue.

“The Fifth Circuit’s decision itself does not warrant immediate review because it did not definitively resolve any question of practical consequence,” Francisco wrote in his statement.2

The request came after the Fifth Circuit sent Texas v. United States back to a Texas District Court to reexamine its analysis on which sections of the ACA should remain. In 2018, US District Judge Reed O’Connor stated that Congress had reduced to zero the tax penalty for not complying with the ACA’s individual mandate to have health insurance. He then declared the rest of the ACA unconstitutional by extension. Further legal process was halted as the case was pending appeal, according to a report by Modern Healthcare.3

The Supreme Court this month will select the final cases it will consider in its current term that ends in June. Unless a majority of the court votes to expedite the request, that would mean a final decision on the ACA would not come before November.1

The Republican states challenging the ACA argued that review of the case is premature, writing in a brief that Democrats would have filed the petition earlier if there was an “emergency requiring expedited consideration,” according to Modern Healthcare.3

Reference

  • Barnes, Robert. Trump Administration tells Supreme Court no Need to Rush an Obamacare ruling [press release]. The Washington Post. Published January 10, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/trump-administration-tells-supreme-court-no-need-to-rush-an-obamacare-ruling/2020/01/10/7801a1dc-33f7-11ea-a053-dc6d944ba776_story.html. Accessed January 15, 2020.
  • Francisco, Noel. Response to the Federal Respondents in Opposition to Petitioners’ Motions to Expedite Consideration of the Petitions for Writs of Certiorari. https://www.supremecourt.gov/DocketPDF/19/19-841/128212/20200110134731525_19-840%2019-841%20-%20Cal%20%20House%20-%20Opp%20to%20Motion%20to%20Expedite.pdf. Accessed January 15, 2020.
  • Livingston, Shelby. Trump administration, GOP states urge Supreme Court to deny quick review of Obamacare case. Published January 10, 2020. https://www.modernhealthcare.com/legal/trump-administration-gop-states-urge-supreme-court-deny-quick-review-obamacare-case. Accessed January 15, 2020.