Attorney General Ford Celebrates Victory in Affordable Care Act Case

June 17, 2021

In a 7-2 Supreme Court decision, the entire Act is upheld

Carson City, NV – Today, Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford announced that the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a challenge by the former Trump Administration and states with Republican leadership to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In a seven-two decision, the justices ruled to leave the law intact, preserving health care coverage for millions of Americans.

In 2018, the Department of Justice under the former Trump Administration and 18 states led by Texas filed a lawsuit to invalidate the ACA. They argued that the ACA’s insurance-purchase mandate became unconstitutional when the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress after more than 70 failed attempts to “repeal and replace” the ACA made just one change to the law: It zeroed out the penalty for failure to comply with the mandate. Based on this minor change, the Department of Justice and these states attempted to invalidate the entire ACA.

In today’s ruling, the Supreme Court Justices concluded that the challengers had no legal right to bring the case because Congress did nothing unlawful by reducing the mandate penalty to $0.

“The Affordable Care Act is a critical lifeline to Nevada families and families all over the country, which is why my office made it a priority to defend this important law,” said AG Ford. “Nevadans, I have always promised to defend your rights to health care, and today you are seeing the results of this promise. The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling protects millions of Americans and the hundreds of thousands of Nevada families depending on the Affordable Care Act for access to quality and affordable healthcare. I could not be more proud of what we have accomplished today.”

Shortly after taking office, AG Ford joined a coalition of 20 states taking immediate action to defend the ACA. AG Ford filed brief in the U.S. Supreme Court defending the ACA and urging the Supreme Court to dismiss the suit. The Court agreed to review a recent Fifth Circuit decision that held the ACA's individual mandate unconstitutional and called into question whether the remaining provisions of the law could still stand. The decision would jeopardize Medicaid expansion, critical public health programs that help fight COVID-19, and subsidies that help working families’ access care, among countless others.

The coalition of attorneys general defended the ACA in its entirety, supported by a bipartisan group of amici including scholars, economists, public health experts, hospital and provider associations, patient groups, counties, cities, and more. The attorneys general noted that while the Fifth Circuit held that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, it sidestepped on the validity of the ACA’s remaining provisions. 

In their brief filed in the U.S. Supreme Court, the attorneys general made clear that patients, doctors, hospitals, employers, workers, states, pharmaceutical companies and more would be negatively impacted if the ACA should fall. The brief also highlighted important advancements in healthcare access made under the ACA. In Nevada, the health care of hundreds of thousands of Nevadans was at risk including:

  • 211,700 Nevadans are enrolled through Medicaid expansion; 
  • 636,208 Nevadans with traditional Medicaid coverage, including seniors, people with disabilities, and children, were at risk; and
  • 303,343 Nevada children’s care was at risk.

If the Affordable Care Act had been repealed:

  • 282,000 Nevadans could have lost coverage. According to the Urban Institute, 282,000 Nevadans would lose coverage by repealing the Affordable Care Act, leading to a 75 percent increase in the uninsured rate;
  • 19,000 Nevada young adults with their parents’ coverage could have lost care. Because of the Affordable Care Act, millions of young adults are able to stay on their parents’ care until age 26;
  • 74,000 Nevada children could have lost their coverage. Almost three million children nationwide gained coverage thanks to the ACA. If the law had been overturned, many of these children could have lost their insurance;
  • 95,900 Nevada Latinos could have lost coverage. The percentage of people gaining health insurance under the ACA was higher for Latinos than for any other racial or ethnic group in the country. According to a study from Families USA, 5.4 million Latinos nationwide would lose coverage if the lawsuit succeeds in overturning the ACA; and
  • Nevadans could have lost important federal health care funding. The Urban Institute estimates that a full repeal of the ACA would reduce federal spending on Nevadans’ Medicaid/CHIP care and Marketplace subsidies by $1.2 billion.

In addition to Nevada, other states who participated in this coalition to defend the ACA include: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota (by and through its Department of Commerce), Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the Governor of Kentucky.