The justices did not decide broader legal questions raised in the case about whether a key Obamacare provision was unconstitutional and, if so, whether the rest of the statute should be struck down. They said with the tax penalty at zero, there effectively is no individual mandate, so the law is not unconstitutional.
"Today's U.S. Supreme Court decision is a major victory for all Americans benefitting from this groundbreaking and life-changing law", President Joe Biden said in a statement.
For Medicare recipients, "Obamacare" also improved preventive care, and more importantly, closed a prescription drug coverage gap of several thousand dollars that was known as the "doughnut hole".
Republican lawmakers said the "ruling does not change the fact that Obamacare failed to meet its promises and is hurting hard-working American families".
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican who led the challenge, vowed to continue to fight Obamacare. "So have the Act's defenders, who argued in first instance that the individual coverage mandate is the Act's linchpin, yet now, in an about-face, contend that it is just a throwaway sentence". We used this policy to launch our Voice for the Uninsured campaign in 2007, providing needed momentum as health reform was being debated in DC.
Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the majority ruling in the case, "California v. Texas".
The U.S. Supreme Court this week eliminated one of the reasons cited by Mississippi Republican leaders for not expanding Medicaid.
Conservative justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, who was also appointed by Trump, were the dissenting voices.
Republicans fiercely opposed Obamacare when it was proposed, failed to repeal it when they controlled both chambers of Congress and have been unsuccessful in getting courts to invalidate the law, which was Democratic former president Barack Obama's signature domestic policy achievement.
Biden's administration in February urged the Supreme Court to uphold Obamacare, reversing the position taken by the government under Trump, who left office in January.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a Trump appointee whose 2020 confirmation hearing included questions from Democrats over whether she would vote to invalidate Obamacare, joined the majority in the ruling.
The ACA has been the law of the land since 2011 and covers almost 20 million people. Our AMA is committed to working with Congress and the Biden administration to achieve further advancements, such as making cost-sharing help more generous and available to more people, providing a coverage pathway to residents in states that have not expanded Medicaid who qualify for neither Medicaid nor ACA marketplace coverage, and fixing the ACA's "family glitch".
"Many Americans still need relief from the rising healthcare costs and shrinking coverage options that have resulted from the Affordable Care Act", she said, arguing that conditions in the individual market have "worsened dramatically" following the passage of Obamacare.
The Supreme Court has a 6-3 conservative majority but the Republican Obamacare challengers still came away disappointed in a ruling in which all three liberal justices were joined by four of the six conservative justices.
Opposition to Obamacare seems to have receded as a political issue for Republicans as the party has emphasized other matters such as immigration, voting restrictions and hot-button cultural issues.
The two individual plaintiffs didn't prove that they would be harmed by the individual mandate and thus it must be struck down as the penalty for not following the mandate was zeroed out, the opinion said.
Judge Reed O'Connor of the Northern District of Texas ruled on December 14, 2018, that the Obamacare law was unconstitutional in its entirety, but stayed enforcement during the appeals process. A year later a federal appeals court agreed that the insurance mandate was unconstitutional, but it ordered the trial court to reconsider whether other parts of the sprawling law could remain in place.