Supreme Court Finds No Standing to Challenge ACA’s Minimum Essential Coverage Provision

In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court has held that both the state and individual plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the Affordable Care Act’s minimum essential coverage provision. Since the plaintiffs lacked standing, the Court did not address the validity of the Act. The Court reversed the Fifth Circuit, which had found that some of the plaintiffs did have standing and that the provision was unconstitutional.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“the Act” or “ACA”) as enacted in 2010 required most Americans to obtain minimum essential health insurance coverage and imposed a monetary penalty upon most individuals who failed to do so.

Amendments to the Act in 2017 effectively nullified the penalty by setting its amount to $0. Subsequently, Texas (along with over a dozen states and two individuals) brought suit against federal officials, claiming that without the penalty ACA’s minimum essential coverage provision was unconstitutional.

The plaintiffs sought a declaration that the provision was unconstitutional, and an injunction against enforcement of the rest of ACA. A district court determined that the individual plaintiffs had standing.

The Fifth Circuit agreed as to the existence of standing but concluded that the district court’s severability analysis provided insufficient justification to strike down the entire Act.

The Supreme Court, reversing the Fifth Circuit, held that the plaintiffs do not have standing. Since the Court said the plaintiffs did not have standing, the Court did not reach the question of the Act’s validity.

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