AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

Supreme Court votes to uphold the Affordable Care Act: how does this affect me?

A new ruling has dismissed a Republican challenge which would have seriously threatened the future of Obamacare, but how does the decision affect healthcare provision?

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Supreme Court votes to uphold the Affordable Care Act: how does this affect me?
JONATHAN ERNST REUTERS

On Thursday the Supreme Court ruled against a challenge to the Affordable Care Act which had threatened the healthcare of millions of Americans. The case was brought by a number of Republican-led states and the former Trump administration and had called for the entire law, also known as Obamacare, to be blocked.

The Supreme Court’s decision was announced by Justice Stephen Breyer, with a 7-2 vote in favour of dismissing the Republican challenge. Only Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented.

In his written appraisal of the attempt, Breyer said that the claimants had “failed to show that they have standing to attack as unconstitutional the Act's minimum essential coverage provision."

What is the Affordable Care Act?

The Affordable Care Act was signed into law by former President Barack Obama in 2010 and provided affordable health insurance for those who had struggled to get coverage. It is estimated that nearly 54 million Americans, roughly a quarter of non-elderly adults, have pre-existing conditions that would make it difficult for them to find insurance in the individual market.

The Affordable Care Act offers a variety of protections for those with pre-existing conditions which make it easier for them to find affordable coverage. Its passage over a decade ago has been credited as one of the most significant reforms of the US healthcare system for decades.

President Biden was serving as Obama’s number two when the legislation was first passed and it is no surprise that such a passionate supporter of the programme has looked to strengthen it since taking office earlier this year.

The Trump administration had attempted to chip away at the law with a serious of amendments but Biden has looked to reverse them. His central goal was to increase the number of people with health insurance in America, which he did by stripping back the work requirements introduced by his predecessor.

How does the Affordable Care Act affect me?

As mentioned there has been a concerted effort in recent months to widen the uptake of Obamacare health coverage and it seems that it has been successful. Earlier this month the White House announced that a total of 31.4 million people are currently covered by the Affordable Care Act. This includes around 14.8 million who had qualified for the expanded Medicaid programme, which had made more low-income adults eligible.

The Supreme Court defeat for Republicans and Trump means that there will be no rolling back of the protections and the coverage offered by the Affordable Care Act. Crucially, during a pandemic, this means that millions will retain their affordable healthcare.

Since the start of the pandemic many people have seen their livelihoods threatened and Obamacare has offered a safety net for Americans who have lost their jobs. Enrolment in the Affordable Care Act has risen sharply since March 2020 and Biden will have been delighted to stave off the third Supreme Court challenge to the legislation.