US Supreme Court upholds Obamacare, safeguarding health care for millions

39;Just stop- it's over': GOP brutally mocked after losing yet another Obamacare challenge

By a vote of 7-2, the justices rejected a lawsuit brought by 18 Republican-led states, ruling that they do not have legal standing to sue.

Republicans have long opposed the law, former President Barack Obama's signature legislation, NBC News reports.

They also found that the mandate was "clearly unconstitutional" and the rest of the law should also be struck down. But more than 20 million Americans now depend on it for their health insurance. Biden officials say the law provides health care coverage to 31 million Americans who would not otherwise be covered. Biden served as vice president under Obama.

Filed by a coalition of states led by Texas, the case challenged the "individual mandate" provision, in which people without health insurance face a tax penalty.

Alito went on to note that in the recent past, states have been permitted to wage lawsuits over costs related to exemptions from contraceptive mandates or costs from environmental regulations - and that Texas and the other state plaintiffs in this case should have been allowed to do the same.

"Despite every desperate right-wing attack to rip health care away from millions of Americans, the Affordable Care Act is constitutional and it's here to stay", said Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of MA.

In dissent, Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Justice Neil Gorsuch, accused the majority of ducking the constitutional issues that conservatives for years have argued make the federal healthcare overhaul unconstitutional. "There have been religious liberty objections to various aspects of the law, in particular the contraception mandate, so I think it is possible there will be more", Shaw said.

The majority includes Justice Clarence Thomas, who was on the other side in previous cases about the law, as well as two justices appointed by former President Donald Trump, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

If Obamacare had been struck down, up to 20 million Americans stood to lose medical insurance and insurers again could have refused to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions. Obamacare expanded the Medicaid state-federal healthcare program and created marketplaces for private insurance.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, called the ruling a "victory for Democrats' work to defend protections for people with pre-existing conditions against Republicans' relentless efforts to dismantle them".

Biden has pledged to expand healthcare access and buttress Obamacare. He and other Democrats had criticized Republican efforts to strike down the law at a time when the USA was grappling with a deadly coronavirus pandemic.

The Texas v. California ruling marks the first challenge the ACA has faced since conservatives took a 6-3 advantage on the court last fall. In December 2016, just before Obama left office and Trump swept in calling the ACA a "disaster", 46% of Americans had an unfavorable view of the law, while 43% approved, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll. Opposition to Obamacare seems to have receded as a political issue for many Republicans as their party has emphasised other matters such as immigration, voting restrictions and hot-button "culture war" issues.

In 2017, Trump signed a Republican-backed tax law that eliminated the financial penalty under the individual mandate, which gave rise to the Republican lawsuit. Lawmakers in 2017 reduced the penalty to $0 as part of Republicans' tax overhaul package, and the GOP-led states argued that change meant the mandate could no longer be upheld under the taxing power.

Justice Alito's lengthy dissent (in which Justice Neil Gorsuch joined) nearly playfully refers to the case as "the third installment in our epic Affordable Care Act trilogy" - in which "the Court is presented with the daunting problem of a "tax" that does not tax".

In 2012, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the four liberal justices on the court at the time, NFIB v. Sebelius, for a 5-4 decision that upheld the constitutionality of the individual mandate by deeming it a tax.

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