Supreme Court ACA Decision

In 2010, Congress enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable CareAct in order to increase the number of Americans covered by health insurance and decrease the cost of health care. One key provision isthe individual mandate, which requires most Americans to maintain?minimum essential? health insurance coverage. 26 U. S. C. §5000A.For individuals who are not exempt, and who do not receive healthinsurance through an employer or government program, the means ofsatisfying the requirement is to purchase insurance from a private company. Beginning in 2014, those who do not comply with the mandate must make a ?[s]hared responsibility payment? to the Federal Government. §5000A(b)(1). The Act provides that this ?penalty?will be paid to the Internal Revenue Service with an individual?s taxes, and ?shall be assessed and collected in the same manner? as tax penalties. §§5000A(c), (g)(1).

Another key provision of the Act is the Medicaid expansion. The current Medicaid program offers federal funding to States to assist pregnant women, children, needy families, the blind, the elderly, and the disabled in obtaining medical care. 42 U. S. C. §1396d(a). The Affordable Care Act expands the scope of the Medicaid program andincreases the number of individuals the States must cover. For example, the Act requires state programs to provide Medicaid coverage by 2014 to adults with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, whereas many States now cover adults with children onlyif their income is considerably lower, and do not cover childless adults at all. §1396a(a)(10)(A)(i)(VIII). The Act increases federal funding tocover the States? costs in expanding Medicaid coverage. §1396d(y)(1).But if a State does not comply with the Act?s new coverage requirements, it may lose not only the federal funding for those requirements, but all of its federal Medicaid funds. §1396c.

Twenty-six States, several individuals, and the National Federation of Independent Business brought suit in Federal District Court,challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate and theMedicaid expansion. The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit upheld the Medicaid expansion as a valid exercise of Congress?s spending power, but concluded that Congress lacked authority to enact the individual mandate. Finding the mandate severable from theAct?s other provisions, the Eleventh Circuit left the rest of the Act intact.
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