Dec 18, 2019 - Health

Appeals court strikes down ACA's individual mandate

A U.S. Court of Appeals on Wednesday ruled that the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate is unconstitutional, but ordered a lower court to take a fresh look at how much of the rest of the law should fall along with it.

What's next: This decision will likely keep the ACA's protections for pre-existing conditions in legal limbo well past the 2020 election.

The intrigue: Republican attorneys general have argued that congressional Republicans’ 2017 tax law, which nullified the ACA's individual mandate, made that policy unconstitutional.

  • A panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals said Wednesday that it agrees.
  • Republicans, and the Trump administration, have said the courts should strike down the entire law along with the mandate.
  • The 5th Circuit wrestled during oral arguments over how much of the law to strike down, ultimately deciding to kick that question back to the lower court for a new hearing. That lower court previously said the entire law would have to go.

Yes, but: The individual mandate is now essentially toothless, and it turned out not to be particularly effective when it was in effect.

  • So if the court is inclined to strike down the mandate alone, letting the rest of the law stand, that would be a much safer proposition than it appeared to be in 2012.

Go deeper: Government funding bill deal will repeal key ACA taxes

Go deeper