CHA News Article

Day 3 of Supreme Court Arguments Focus on Severability

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments today on an issue known as “severability,” which becomes relevant if the court determines the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unconstitutional. If the individual mandate, which requires people to purchase health insurance, is struck down, the court must decide what other ACA provisions must be struck down as well.Challengers to ACA believe the individual mandate is such a key provision that if it does not meet the legal standard then the entire law should be dismissed. The administration argues that if the requirement for individuals to purchase health insurance does not survive, then the guaranteed issue and community rating provisions must also face the same fate. The issue of severability only exists because ACA did not follow the normal legislative process, and does not contain a clause that validates remaining parts of the bill if other parts are struck down.

If the individual mandate and related provisions are struck down, California will have to determine the future of the California Health Benefit Exchange. Later today, the court will hear a sixth hour of arguments on the constitutionality of the expansion of state Medicaid programs. States opposing this provision question the amount of power Congress should have under the Constitution’s Spending Clause. Audio and transcripts are available on the Supreme Court website at