The Affordable Care Act is under fire again in federal court

Amy Goldstein and Gayle Reaves, The Washington Post

The long-disputed fate of the Affordable Care Act played out anew in a Fort Worth courtroom Wednesday as a score of Republican-led states sought to persuade a federal judge to halt the sprawling health-care law.

In the latest legal threat to the 2010 law, the coalition of GOP attorney’s general and a pair of governors argued that a recent change in federal tax policy has made the ACA unconstitutional.

For the short-term, they asked a federal judge to grant a preliminary injunction that would suspend the law while the rest of the case unfolds — a possibility that could throw significant aspects of the U.S. health-care system into chaos.

The ACA has been upheld twice by the Supreme Court. In a 2012 ruling in a case challenging the law’s requirement that most Americans buy health insurance, the majority reasoned that Congress’s authority to set taxes made that mandate constitutional. The law contains a tax penalty for people who flout the requirement.

Arguing on behalf of the Democratic states, a pair of California deputy attorneys general told the judge that the law remains constitutional even without the tax penalty and that, if there was any doubt, the proper legal path was to strike down Congress’s removal of the penalty — not to rule against the law.

Read more here.