Supreme Court Votes To Keep The ACA Intact


On June 17, 2021, the Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—a federal statute and landmark law that has made health insurance more accessible for Americans. The challenge is the third and was brought on by Republican-led states, piloted by Texas. Ultimately, the Supreme Court justices voted to keep the ACA intact.

The justices ruled 7-2 on the basis that Republican challengers lacked the standing to challenge the individual mandate and noted that there was no harm to opponents from the provisions because Congress reduced the penalty to zero for not having health insurance. “For these reasons, we conclude that the plaintiffs in this suit failed to show a concrete, particularized injury fairly traceable to the defendants’ conduct in enforcing the specific statutory provision they attack as unconstitutional,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote. Of the 7-2 vote, Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented.

The ACA was signed into law by former president, Barack Obama on March 23, 2010 and has since been a part of the U.S.’s healthcare fabric. Since the statute’s inception, health insurance has been accessed by millions of Americans. A recent report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed that 31 million Americans have health insurance through the ACA, 11.3 million of whom are enrolled in ACA Marketplace plans as of February 2021.

“Healthcare coverage is life-changing for our communities and families. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans have been able to enroll in high-quality, affordable coverage through Marketplaces and Medicaid expansion,” Chiquita Brooks-Lasure, CMS administrator said in a press release.

A strike down of the ACA would have left 21.1 million people uninsured in 2022, disproportionately impacting lower income adults, an Urban Institute report found. In addition, the uninsured population would increase by at least 90 percent in 25 states and the District of Columbia. If the ACA was overturned, people with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, would also risk losing their health insurance coverage, as the ACA prevents insurance companies from denying coverage or charging more.

WRITTEN BY Kayla Hui, MPH , POSTED 06/17/21, UPDATED 12/13/22

Kayla Hui is the health reporter for Beyond Type 1 covering diabetes, chronic illnesses and health inequities. She received her Masters in Public Health from the Boston University School of Public Health. Kayla won a Pulitzer Center fellowship and Slants Foundation award in 2020 for her project on the mental health of Chinese Immigrant truck drivers. Her published work can be found at Healthline, Verywell Health, Pulitzer Center and more. Outside of work, Kayla enjoys rock climbing, baking and buying plants she doesn’t need. You can follow Kayla on Twitter at @kaylanhui.