The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will hear a challenge from Republican states to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, the court’s third whack at the law. It will hear the case in October or November, likely before the election, but will be unlikely to hand down a decision until 2021. Democratic state legislatures and the House of Representatives, which are defending the law, asked for expedited consideration, while the challenging states, led by Texas and backed by Trump’s Department of Justice, wanted a delay while a 5th Circuit Court judge reconsidered his decision from last fall that struck down the entire law.
This puts into question the entirety of the law, during a potential public health crisis in an election year. So that’s not at all fraught. The idea that perhaps Chief Justice John Roberts wouldn’t want to take on such a political case at this moment in time is out the window. What’s at stake is coverage for millions of people. It’s Medicaid expansion, it’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions, it’s preventive health screenings and immunization and flu shots without a copay, and billions in savings to the Medicare system. It’s a lot, and at a time when the ACA has never been more popular nor the American voters more focused on health care.