Democratic-led states want expedited Supreme Court review of the ACA challenge

Twenty Democratic-led states and the District of Columbia want the U.S. Supreme Court, by the end of this term, to review a ruling that found the ACA's individual mandate unconstitutional.

At issue in the case — Texas v. United States — is whether the ACA's individual mandate was rendered unconstitutional when the penalty associated with it was zeroed out by the 2017 tax law. Also at issue is whether the entire ACA should be invalidated if the mandate is unconstitutional, or if it can be severed from the law.

On Dec. 18, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision: The individual mandate is unconstitutional, but its severability is up to the lower court to decide. The appeals court sent that decision back to U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor, who originally presided over the case and ruled the entire ACA unconstitutional. The appeals court directed Mr. O'Connor to conduct a more granular analysis of the law to see which, if any, of the provisions are severable. 

The Democratic state attorneys general say the directive to comb through the 900-page healthcare law only serves to prolong and exacerbate confusion in the healthcare industry. They filed a petition Jan. 3 with the Supreme Court asking it to take up the case, alongside a motion to expedite consideration by the end of the term in June.

"The uncertainty created by this litigation is especially problematic because individuals, businesses and state and local governments make important decisions in reliance on the ACA," the petition reads. "Each year, for example, millions of Americans make life-changing decisions — like starting a family or changing jobs — in reliance on the ACA's patient protections and the greater access to affordable healthcare coverage it provides."

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