By Mark Sherman, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court has dismissed a challenge to the Obama era health care law, preserving insurance coverage for millions of Americans, including hundreds of thousands of Coloradans.
The justices, by a 7-2 vote, left the entire law intact Thursday in ruling that Texas, other Republican-led states and two individuals had no right to bring their lawsuit in federal court.
The law’s major provisions include protections for people with pre-existing health conditions, a range of no-cost preventive services and the expansion of the Medicaid program that insures lower-income people, including those who work in jobs that don’t pay much or provide health insurance.
Also left in place is the law’s now-toothless requirement that people have health insurance or pay a penalty. Congress rendered that provision irrelevant in 2017 when it reduced the penalty to zero.
The elimination of the penalty had become the hook that Texas and other Republican-led states, as well as the Trump administration, used to attack the entire law. They argued that without the mandate, a pillar of the law when it was passed in 2010, the rest of the law should fall, too.
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And with a more conservative Supreme Court that includes three Trump appointees, opponents of “Obamacare” hoped a majority of the justices would finally kill off the law they have been fighting against for more than a decade.
But the third major attack on the law at the Supreme Court ended the way the first two did, with a majority of the court rebuffing efforts to gut the law or get rid of it altogether.
Trump’s three appointees to the Supreme Court — Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — split their votes. Kavanaugh and Barrett joined the majority. Gorsuch was in dissent, signing on to an opinion from Justice Samuel Alito.
Colorado was among roughly two dozen states that lined up to defend the law.
More than 450,000 Coloradans received Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of the health care program. More than 150,000 people signed up for health care on the state’s insurance exchange in 2019.