- The main lobbying groups for both the hospital and insurance industries filed amicus briefs Wednesday urging the Supreme Court to take on the controversial case seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act.
- By sending the key question in the case back down to the lower court for a “do-over,” the appellate court’s ruling “casts a long shadow of uncertainty over ACA-based investments,” America’s Health Insurance Plans said in its brief.
- Various hospital lobbying groups argued the case creates enormous uncertainty for industry, raising questions about whether they should continue to invest in the provisions that are so closely intertwined with the ACA, according to their brief.
Two courts have so far ruled against the landmark health law, finding that the individual mandate is unconstitutional because Congress stripped away the financial penalty for forgoing insurance coverage.
Without the financial penalty attached, the so-called individual mandate can no longer be considered a tax and is therefore unconstitutional, according to the courts. A lower court went even further than the appellate court and found that the entire law must fall because the mandate cannot be severed from the remainder of the ACA.
The appellate court avoided answering this key question regarding severability and sent it back to the lower court for additional analysis. The appellate court ruling generated outcry from industry, which argues the case will take years to wind its way through the courts leaving a cloud of uncertainty in its wake.
The ACA fundamentally reshaped the nation’s healthcare system and is credited with lowering the ranks of the uninsured by millions.
A coalition of blue states that stepped in to defend the law petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case and asked for an expedited review. Meanwhile, a group of red states looking to overturn the law has argued the case does not merit intervention from the high court.
After failed attempts by Republicans in Congress to kill the law entirely, in 2017 Congress cut the penalty for not having insurance coverage to zero in a unrelated tax bill. The red states and two individual plaintiffs from Texas have argued the move renders the law unconstitutional.
AHIP argues that the ACA can stand without the penalty (and has) since Congress’ changes in 2017.
“Congress has unmistakably indicated through its actions: that the ACA should continue in operation even in the absence of the individual mandate,” AHIP said in its brief, arguing a repeal of the law would “wreak havoc” on the nation’s healthcare system.
Other advocacy groups, including AARP, American Cancer Society and Small Business Majority filed separate briefs urging the Supreme Court to take on the case. A group of bipartisan economic scholars also submitted a brief in support of the Supreme Court taking on the case.