States Sue Trump Administration Over ACA’s Individual Mandate

A coalition of 20 states seeking to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has brought a lawsuit against the Trump administration. The states, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, claim that when the new Republican tax law repealed the ACA’s individual mandate (which levied a tax penalty for not having health-care insurance), it rendered the health-care law unconstitutional.

The law “eliminated the tax penalty of the ACA, without eliminating the mandate itself,” the states argued in a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Texas. “What remains, then, is the individual mandate, without any accompanying exercise of Congress’s taxing power, which the Supreme Court already held that Congress has no authority to enact.”

In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the ACA’s requirement that most Americans obtain insurance or pay a penalty was authorized by Congress’s power to levy taxes. However, the court rejected the argument that the penalty was justified by Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce.

The 20 states want to use the 2012 ruling against the ACA because the health-care law does not have a severability clause – a provision that allows the rest of the law to stand if the courts strike part of it down.

Sources: Politico, February 26, 2018; Reuters, February 26, 2018