supreme court

The Affordable Care Act & the Supreme Court

Why is this case important?

Our easy-to-follow infographic can help you understand this landmark case and the different potential outcomes.

Discussion Board

The Affordable Care Act:
Building Up to the Supreme Court Case


In 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), also referred to as ObamaCare, was passed into law. Although we have seen multiple attempts to repeal the law, the ACA has remained in place for nearly ten years and 20 million people have gained insurance as a result. Yet, on November 10, 2020, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments in California v. Texas, a legal challenge that seeks to strike down the ACA.


The ACA is passed into law. Among many other components, it included an "individual mandate" authorized by Congress. The mandate imposed a tax penalty on individuals who did no secure health care coverage.


The U.S. Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law which changed the ACA's individual mandate tax penalty to zero dollars. In other words, people who did not secure health care coverage no longer had to pay a tax penalty.


The Texas Attorney General (along with 18 other state attorneys general, two governors, and two individuals) filed a lawsuit in the state of Texas claiming that by reducing the tax penalty to zero dollars, the individual mandate was unconstitutional because no revenue was now being produced for the federal government under Congress' power to tax.


The trial court ruled in favor of the Texas Attorney General stating that the individual mandate, as well as the entire ACA, is invalid and must be struck down. This ruling was appealed, and the 5th Circuit Court took up the case.


The 5th Circuit Court ruled that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, but instead of deciding whether the rest of the ACA must also be struck down, the Court sent the case back to the trial court for additional analysis. The California Attorney General then appealed the decision to the United States Supreme Court.


The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, which asks whether the law's individual mandate is unconstitutional, if so, whether the rest of the ACA can remain law.


The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case.

What Comes Next

While the ACA remains the law of the land for now, it is important for all people, including cancer patients, survivors, and their loved ones, to understand the potential implications and what this case could mean for them. If the Supreme Court finds that the entire ACA is unconstitutional, it could have serious implications for access to care, removing many essential patient protections that cancer patients and survivors depend on. Congress also has the ability to pass legislation that could change the course of the lawsuit against the ACA, effectively ending the case.

For up-to-date information on the future of the ACA and other policy issues that may impact cancer patients, sign up for our grassroots network.


The Affordable Care Act at Risk: What Does This Mean for You?


This infographic is meant for general information only and is neither intended as nor should be relied upon as legal advice. We encourage consultation with an attorney for anyone seeking a legal opinion. (Revised 11/17/2020)