US Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Law Again

The U.S. Supreme Court for the third time on Thursday upheld the legality of the country’s chief health insurance law that provides millions of Americans with coverage to help pay their medical costs. The court, in a 7-to-2 decision, rejected a bid by 18 Republican-led states and the administration of former President Donald Trump to upend the 2010 Affordable Care Act. It was the signature legislative achievement of former President Barack Obama, Trump’s immediate predecessor, and is popularly known in the U.S. as Obamacare. The country’s highest court had also rejected legal challenges in 2012 and 2015, with all three decisions keeping in place such politically popular provisions as allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance policies until they turn 26 and ensuring coverage for patients with preexisting health conditions. As originally approved by Congress, the law required people to pay a penalty if they chose to not buy health insurance. But Congress in 2017 set that penalty — the so-called individual mandate — at zero. Republican state attorneys general, and the Trump administration, contended that removing the penalty provision made the whole law unconstitutional. The court did not consider the validity of the claims made against the law but ruled that the states opposed to it did not have legal standing to make the challenge. The majority decision was written by liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, and joined by two of the three conservative justices appointed to the court by Trump, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. The third Trump appointee, Neil Gorsuch, joined Justice Samuel Alito in dissent. President Joe Biden has said he will attempt to add on provisions to the Affordable Care Act, which was approved when he was Obama’s vice president. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra praised the Supreme Court decision, saying it was “a victory for all Americans, especially people with a pre-existing condition or anyone who was worried they could be forced to choose between their health and making ends meet. Health care should be a right — not a privilege — just for the healthy and wealthy.” 

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