On June 17, 2021, the Supreme Court rejected another attempt to dismantle the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) in its highly-anticipated decision in Texas v. California. However, instead of ruling on the central issue in the case—whether the ACA was rendered unconstitutional when Congress eliminated the individual tax penalty for failing to obtain health insurance—the Court dispatched the case on a procedural technicality. In a 7:2 decision authored by Justice Breyer, the Court held that neither the states nor the individuals challenging the law had legal standing to challenge the provision of the ACA that requires individuals to have health insurance (known as the individual mandate).
Following this most recent chapter in the “epic Affordable Care Act trilogy,” as Justice Alito put it in his dissent, many hope that there will be greater certainty around the longevity of the ACA. “Since the ACA was enacted more than a dozen years ago, employers have been asked to comply with and commit to the law despite numerous legal and legislative challenges. We hope the court’s ruling re-establishes the ACA as settled law that can be relied upon—and improved,” American Benefits Council President James A. Klein said in news release shortly after the Court’s decision.