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Texas v United States: The Affordable Care Act Is Constitutional and Will Remain So

On December 14, 2018, in a widely reported decision, a federal judge in Texas ruled that the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unconstitutional. The judge reasoned that since the ACA’s “individual mandate” is unconstitutional, the rest of the law cannot stand without it. However, the ACA will remain in place pending appeal, and it is highly unlikely that this ruling will stand.

The ACA in 2010 created an individual mandate to expand health insurance coverage, along with Medicaid expansion and subsidies for moderate and low-income households. The mandate required most Americans to maintain “minimum essential” coverage, enforced through a “shared responsibility payment” in the form of a tax. The Supreme Court in National Federation of Independent Business v Sebelius (2012) upheld the individual mandate as within Congress’ power to tax. (It rejected the commerce power as a constitutional justification for the mandate.)

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