U.S. Supreme Court won’t rule on ACA before 2020 election

January 22, 2020

The one-sentence denial preserves the ACA status quo-at least until after the presidential election.

The U.S. Supreme Court will not decide the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) before voters take to the polls this November.

In a one-sentence order, the high court denied a request from defenders of the law to rule on whether the ACA can stand as law faster than usual after an appellate court ruled the law’s individual mandate unconstitutional and remanded the case back to a lower court.

The individual mandate imposed a tax penalty against anyone who was not insured was a key part of the legislation when it was passed, but it was later decreased to $0 in 2017. The lower court had previously ruled the whole law was unconstitutional due to the individual mandate’s importance to the overall law.

In 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled the ACA constitutional saying that it fell under Congress’ powers of taxation.

The Trump administration has put its weight behind those seeking to have the law stricken, and filed briefs with the Supreme Court asking for consideration of the case to be delayed until after the election in which President Donald J. Trump will likely face a Democratic challenger seeking to expand healthcare coverage in the country.

After the appellate decision was released in late-December, in a statement Trump said it was a win for the country and that his administration “continues to work to provide access to high-quality healthcare at a price you can afford, while strongly protecting those with pre-existing conditions.”

Groups such as the American Medical Association (AMA), American College of Physicians (ACP), and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) reacted far less positively to the ruling. In a trio of news releases Dec. 19, each group, who had filed a joint brief with the district and appeals courts in support of the ACA, expressed their concern that the ruling would lead to further uncertainty amongst patients.

“Today’s decision leaves important health insurance protections shrouded in uncertainty despite overwhelming public support for these policies,” says AMA President Patrice A. Harris, MD, in a news release.