WASHINGTON (KXAN/AP) — The United States Supreme Court threw out a lawsuit Thursday against the Affordable Care Act led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
The high court voted 7-2 against the challenge to the Obama-era health care act, saying Texas and other Republican-controlled states listed as plaintiffs didn’t prove “fairly traceable” injuries or harm by the act and had no legal standing to bring the case to federal court. The vote leaves the entire law intact, and it’s the third major challenge to the act signed into law in 2010.
The court didn’t vote on the merits of the case, just that the states didn’t have proper standing to file it in federal court. Theoretically, the law can still be challenged if potential plaintiffs can prove they’ve been harmed in some way by the legislation.
Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch were the dissenting votes. Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, two of three former President Donald Trump appointees to the court, voted with the majority.
The law’s major provisions include protections for people with pre-existing health conditions, a range of no-cost preventive services and the expansion of the Medicaid program that insures lower-income people, including those who work in jobs that don’t pay much or provide health insurance.
Also left in place is the law’s now-toothless requirement that people have health insurance or pay a penalty. Congress rendered that provision irrelevant in 2017 when it reduced the penalty to zero.
The elimination of the penalty had become the hook that Texas and other Republican-led states, as well as the Trump administration, used to attack the entire law. They argued that without the mandate, a pillar of the law when it was passed in 2010, the rest of the law should fall, too.
With a more conservative Supreme Court that includes three Trump appointees, opponents of “Obamacare” hoped a majority of the justices would finally kill off the law they have been fighting against for more than a decade.
However, the third major attack on the law at the Supreme Court ended the way the first two did — with a majority of the court rebuffing efforts to gut the law or get rid of it altogether.