U.S. Supreme Court to Consider Affordable Care Act Validity

The U.S. Supreme Court, during its term beginning in October, has agreed to review a federal appeals court decision striking the individual mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and questioning the legality of other provisions of the ACA. The MHA joined 35 other state hospital associations in filing a friend of the court brief this month, along with briefs separately filed by the American Hospital Association (AHA) in conjunction with the Federation of American Hospitals, the Catholic Health Association of the United States and others, urging the high court to uphold the ACA’s provisions.

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in December found the ACA’s individual insurance mandate to be unconstitutional and sent the case back to the district court in Texas, where it originated, to determine which of the ACA’s provisions could survive without the mandate. Although the Supreme Court declined a petition to expedite a review of the Circuit Court’s ruling on the legality of the ACA, it agreed to accept briefs on the appeal in spring 2020 and put it on the calendar for oral arguments and an eventual decision.

Groups on both sides of the issue may now file briefs for the high court to consider. Among other arguments, the MHA’s brief stresses that the ACA has provided millions of Americans with health insurance, provided access to care for millions of residents with preexisting conditions, and launched innovative models of care that have improved patients’ lives and saved billions of healthcare dollars.

Oral arguments will proceed after the new term starts in the fall. If the high court upholds the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling, the case would proceed as directed by that decision, and the judge in the Texas district court would be directed to rule on the legality of the entire ACA considering the impermissibility of the individual insurance mandate. For more information, contact Amy Barkholz at the MHA.