6 takeaways from the ACA hearing

A panel of judges heard oral arguments in a federal appeals court July 9 on the constitutionality of the ACA. The judges' decision could affect health insurance coverage for millions of Americans.

The three-judge panel is reviewing an appeal of U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor's ruling in Texas v. United States, in which he declared the ACA unconstitutional on the grounds that the individual mandate without a tax penalty is unconstitutional and inseverable from the law. The penalty was zeroed out under the 2017 tax law signed by President Donald Trump.

Here are six takeaways from the oral arguments:

  1. The outlook for the ACA so far is not good, according to The New York Times. The New York Times notes the two judges appointed by Republican presidents — Jennifer Elrod and Kurt Engelhardt — were vocal throughout the hearing, while the third judge, Carolyn King, who was appointed by former President Jimmy Carter, was silent.
  2. The New York Times reports Mr. Engelhardt and Ms. Elrod "sounded likely" to uphold Mr. O'Connor's ruling that the individual mandate is unconstitutional.
  3. It was less clear if the ACA will be ruled unconstitutional based on the inseverability argument, according to the report. The discussion centered on whether Congress intended to strike down the entire ACA by eliminating the tax penalty associated with the individual mandate.
  4. Several issues cropped up related to a May brief from the Department of Justice. The brief stated that Mr. O'Connor's ruling should apply only to the 18 Republican-led plaintiff states and that some parts of the ACA, not related to insurance, should stand. This caused issues among the plaintiffs in court, according to The New York Times.
  5. The arguments also touched on the issue of whether the defendants have legal standing to appeal Mr. O'Connor's decision. The defendants argued they stood to lose hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding if the ACA was struck down, according to The New York Times.
  6. No matter the decision, the losing side will likely appeal and send the case to the Supreme Court, according to The New York Times.

Read more here.

Editor's note: This article incorrectly stated the hearing took place July 10. This was updated July 11. 


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