WASHINGTON – The United States Supreme Court has rejected for the third time a challenge to the country’s leading health insurance law that provides millions of Americans with coverage to help pay their medical bills.
The court, in a 7-2 ruling, on Thursday rejected an offer by 18 Republican-led states and former President Donald Trump’s administration to overturn the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
It was the iconic legislative achievement of former President Barack Obama, Trump’s immediate predecessor, and is popularly known in the United States as Obamacare.
The country’s highest court also dismissed challenges to the law in 2012 and 2015, with the three rulings keeping politically popular provisions in place such as allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance policies until l age 26 and provide coverage for patients with pre-existing illnesses. conditions.
As originally approved by Congress, the law required people to pay a penalty if they chose not to purchase health insurance. But Congress in 2017 set that penalty – the so-called individual mandate – at zero.
Republican state attorneys general and the Trump administration have argued that removing the sanctions provision renders the entire law unconstitutional.
The court did not examine the validity of the claims made against the law, but ruled that states that opposed them lacked the legal capacity to challenge.
The majority decision was drafted by Liberal Judge 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 appointed by Trump, Neil Gorsuch, joined Judge Samuel Alito in dissent.
President Joe Biden has said he will try to add provisions to the Affordable Care Act, which was approved when he was Obama’s vice president.
Biden called the move “a victory for more than 130 million Americans with pre-existing ailments and millions more immediately at risk of losing their health care amid a once-in-a-century pandemic.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra praised the Supreme Court ruling, saying it was “a victory for all Americans, especially those with pre-existing illnesses or anyone who feared they would have to choose between their health and make ends meet. Health care should be a right – not a privilege – only for healthy and wealthy people. “
In a separate religious rights ruling Thursday, the court ruled that the eastern city of Philadelphia was wrong to terminate a placement services contract with Catholic Social Services, which refuses to work with same-sex couples because of its religious beliefs.
All nine justices agreed with the result, but Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for a majority of six that Philadelphia had violated the United States Constitution’s guarantee of free exercise of religion by terminating the organization’s contract. Catholic.
Roberts said the organization was only looking “for an accommodation that will allow him to continue serving the children of Philadelphia in a manner consistent with his religious beliefs; he does not seek to impose these beliefs on someone else.
“Philadelphia’s refusal to contract with [Catholic Social Services] for the provision of foster care services unless it agrees to certify same-sex couples as foster parents cannot survive scrutiny and violates the First Amendment to the Constitution, ”Roberts wrote.