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SCOTUS Hears Arguments Challenging the ACA

The Supreme Court appears likely to leave in place the bulk of the  Affordable Care Act after hearing arguments from Republicans seeking to strike it down.

The latest case centers on the individual mandate, the penalty for not purchasing minimum coverage established under the ACA. Since Congress set the penalty to $0 in 2017, the plaintiffs argue the mandate is unconstitutional. Those plaintiffs include the Trump administration and a coalition of Republican-led states.

Striking down the law would leave more than 20 million Americans without health insurance at a time when the country is still reeling from COVID-19.

Prior to COVID-19, more than 95% of New Yorkers had health insurance coverage, in large part due to the ACA. The law has acted as a safety net for those who have lost coverage during the pandemic. Tossing out the ACA would endanger health care coverage for more than three million New Yorkers due to the potential loss of billions of dollars in federal funding.

After two hours of oral arguments on Tuesday, the Supreme Court appeared poised for a ruling that would say that even if part of the ACA is no longer valid, the rest of it can be left intact.

The court’s three liberal justices seemed prepared to uphold the law, and two conservatives – Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh – suggested that even if part of it is struck down (in the case of the individual mandate) the rest can be saved.

The court is expected to issue a decision before its term ends in June 2021.