Dear USET/USET SPF Family,
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in California v. Texas, a case concerning whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was rendered unconstitutional when Congress reduced the individual mandate penalty to zero in December 2017 as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The individual mandate, which was passed under the ACA, requires persons to carry health insurance or pay a penalty. In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court dismissed the case, saying Texas and the other plaintiffs lacked standing, and upheld the ACA for the third time.
Texas, along with several other states and individuals, had urged the Supreme Court to invalidate the entire ACA, arguing that the law was rendered unconstitutional when Congress eliminated the individual mandate, and that no provisions were severable. This was of deep concern to Indian Country because if the Court agreed, it would nullify the Indian-specific provisions within the ACA, including the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA). IHCIA was permanently reauthorized through passage of the ACA and is the cornerstone federal authority for the Indian Healthcare System.
In May 2020, USET SPF joined (along with several Tribal Nations and organizations for a total of 471 Tribal Nations represented) an amicus brief to the Supreme Court arguing that the IHCIA and Indian-specific provisions are severable from the larger law, as they have a separate purpose from the remainder of the Act in execution of the federal trust and treaty obligations to Tribal Nations.
In dismissing the case, the Supreme Court did not address the issue of severability. Regardless, USET SPF celebrates this as a victory because IHCIA and the Indian-specific provisions of the ACA continue to stand, playing a critical role in the delivery of trust and treaty obligations.
To discuss this news, The Department of Health and Human Services is hosting a stakeholder call TODAY, THURSDAY JUNE 17, 2021 at 2:30 PM EDT. The Zoom link to register is below:
WHEN: Jun 17, 2021 02:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
TOPIC: ACA Stakeholder Call
Register in advance for this webinar: https://www.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_6C4tfChzTTmceO7B33_64Q
For more information, please contact Liz Malerba, USET SPF Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org.