Dhe US Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit against former President Barack Obama’s health care reform known as Obamacare. The Supreme Court in Washington on Thursday, with a majority of seven to two judges’ votes, thwarted an attempt by several conservatively governed states to have the reform declared unconstitutional and invalid. The constitutional judges ruled that the states are not entitled to sue. This means that millions of people are keeping the health insurance they received thanks to Obamacare.
The decision of the conservatively dominated Supreme Court is also belated gossip for ex-President Donald Trump: his administration had joined the lawsuit against the health reform. During his tenure, Trump had tried in vain to bring down his predecessor’s historic reform, which has now given around 31 million citizens access to health insurance.
President Joe Biden reacted relieved to the judgment and spoke on Twitter of a “great victory for the American people”. Because millions of people are dependent on “Obamacare”, the reform remains a “damn big deal” – in the English original “BFD” as an abbreviation for “big fucking deal”.
The chairman of the House of Representatives, the Democrat Nancy Pelosi, spoke of a “historic decision” and a “victory” for her party’s efforts to protect people with pre-existing illnesses, among other things. Democratic senator and former presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said the right-wing camp wanted to “wrest health insurance from millions of Americans.” Obama’s health care reform is “constitutional” and will endure.
In the Supreme Court proceedings, the question was whether the health reform passed in 2010 is completely invalid because a central element was de facto reversed. Specifically, it was about the compulsory insurance known as “individual mandate”: The reform obliged most US citizens to take out health insurance under the threat of a fine. This element was particularly controversial – and was at the center of an initial Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare in 2012.
At the time, the court ruled with a narrow majority that the health reform was constitutional because the fine could be understood as a tax. The Congress, which is allowed to levy taxes, has not exceeded its powers because of this.
In 2017, Trump’s Republicans canceled the fine that threatened if insurance was not taken out. Several republican-ruled states subsequently argued that once the penalty payment expired, compulsory insurance would be unconstitutional – and the entire reform would become obsolete. In late 2018, a Conservative federal judge in the state of Texas endorsed this view.
The case eventually ended up in the Supreme Court, which held a hearing on the matter last November. The constitutional judges showed little inclination to delete the entire health reform.
Supporters of the reform feared that the Supreme Court, with its conservative majority built under Trump, could overthrow the reform. The judges now ruled with a large majority that the states were not entitled to sue because they had not suffered any damage in the matter.