In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s individual mandate. With the mandate’s penalty now eliminated under President Donald Trump, 20 states are using the earlier ruling as the basis for a new lawsuit seeking to “effectively repeal Obamacare.”
Of the 20 state attorneys general in the complaint, only two—Maine and Mississippi—are Democrats. Their argument centers on the 2012 ruling in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, where Supreme Court ruled the individual mandate was allowed because the penalty acted like a tax but rejected the Obama administration’s position that the requirement for individuals to buy health coverage fell under Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce.
Now that the penalty has been zeroed out under the Republican-backed tax cut law, what remains is a requirement which Supreme Court justices have ruled is unconstitutional, the suit argues.
“With no remaining legitimate basis for the law, it is time that Americans are finally free from the stranglehold of Obamacare, once and for all,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a press release.
Besides Texas, the states involved are: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
The stated goal of the suit, Paxton said, is to repeal the ACA so it can be replaced by Republicans in Congress. Several legislative efforts to do just that failed in 2017, and the party’s legislative leaders have indicated they have no plans to tackle large-scale healthcare reforms ahead of the midterm elections in November.