The following editorial appeared in The Herald Bulletin, Anderson, Indiana, a CNHI newspaper. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Tribune-Democrat.
The efficacy of the Affordable Care Act is borne out by this number: 31 million Americans use it to secure health insurance and access health care.
Even so, Republicans have continually tried to undercut the ACA, the 2010 law more commonly known as Obamacare.
The latest effort met a resounding defeat last month in the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a 7-2 decision, the high court turned back a challenge by GOP-led states and the administration of former President Donald Trump to upend the entire law. The plaintiffs claimed that the ACA’s mandate that Americans carry health insurance coverage is unconstitutional.
In penning the decision, however, Justice Stephen Breyer explained the court’s finding that the challenging states were not harmed by the mandate, since Congress in 2012 had already reduced the tax penalty to zero dollars.
The June decision marked the third time a federal court has protected the ACA from political attacks by Republicans.
Nine years ago, a 5-4 Supreme Court decision held that the ACA’s individual coverage mandate was constitutional. And in 2019, a federal appeals court, while ruling the mandate unconstitutional, declined to issue an opinion about whether the rest of the massive 2010 law could stand.
The high court’s decision in June was even more significant than the earlier rulings, given the profound health care crisis and economic hardship triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Increasingly, Americans have turned to Obamacare for affordable health care.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported in June that 31 million people have ACA health coverage, including more than 11 million enrolled directly in ACA plans and nearly 15 million more low-income Americans who’ve signed up for Medicaid expansion coverage.
The administration of President Joe Biden established a special ACA enrollment period from mid-Februrary through mid-August of this year. Already, more than 1 million more people have registered.
In short, the Affordable Care Act is a highly popular and effective public health initiative that’s made insurance and care affordable for tens of millions of Americans. And, as the Supreme Court has ruled again, it’s constitutional.
It’s high time that Republicans recognize these truths and stop treating the ACA as a political football.