Updated: June 19, 2021 12:50:17 pm
On Thursday, the US Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to the Obama-era Affordable Care Act (ACA) that was enacted in March 2010 and provides healthcare coverage to millions of Americans.
The court has now dismissed the challenge to the healthcare act that was initiated by the state of Texas. Last year, amid the pandemic, the Trump administration had urged the Supreme Court to overturn this act.
What is the Affordable Care Act and why was it challenged?
ACA or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010 and required most Americans to get a minimum health insurance coverage. It imposed a penalty on those who failed to get the essential minimum health coverage. However, some changes were made to this act in 2017 that nullified this penalty to $0. This change prompted Texas and some Republican-led states to file a suit against federal officials on the basis that without the penalty the minimum essential healthcare coverage would become unconstitutional rendering the act invalid.
The three central goals of the act are to make health insurance affordable to more people, to expand the Medicaid program to cover all adults below 138 per cent of the federal poverty line and to support innovative medical care delivery methods that are designed to lower the cost of healthcare generally.
What do Americans think of the Affordable Care Act?
While the act has been a contentious issue between Democrats and Republicans over the years, with the conservative leadership repeatedly trying to strike it down, as per the Pew Research Center, in 2017 more Americans said that the healthcare act had a positive impact on their lives. In 2017, 56 per cent of the public approved the law while 38 per cent disapproved.
However, the center noted that much of the approval for the act came from Democrats, 67 per cent of Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents said at the time that the law had a positive effect on the country. On the other hand, 64 per cent of Republicans said that the law had a negative impact on the country.
It also noted that since 2010 while the opinions towards the law were mostly negative, the sentiment changed for the first time around February 2017, when the majority of the public approved the law.
So what has the Supreme Court said in its ruling?
“We do not reach these questions of the Act’s validity, however, for Texas and the other plaintiffs in this suit lack the standing necessary to raise them,” the court said in its Thursday ruling. This is the third time that the court has defended the act, two other challenges were similarly dismissed in 2012 and 2015.
The Texas Tribune reported that on Thursday, the court focussed on its rejection of the lawsuit brought by 18 states and two individuals rather than comment on the constitutionality of the law.
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