Santa Clara County today filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court urging the nine justices to overturn an appellate ruling that deemed the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate unconstitutional.
The county joined 43 other jurisdictions in arguing that invalidating the ACA would have a “devastating impact” on health services—especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The individual mandate portion of President Barack Obama’s signature law fines those who can afford insurance but choose not to buy it.
“The Fifth Circuit’s decision is not only wrong, it is dangerous,” County Counsel James Williams said. “Under the ACA, we are able to better serve our communities both in times of wellness and in times of emergency.”
The amicus brief addresses how the ACA has helped local governments improve care for vulnerable residents by reducing wait times for primary care visits, expanding access to preventative health services and reducing trips to the emergency room.
The county argues that the ACA has enabled funding for “COVID-19 testing, public health surveillance efforts and epidemiological and laboratory resources.”
“Dismantling the ACA in the middle of a pandemic would have dire consequences for vulnerable families and the public health more broadly,” county Supervisor Susan Ellenberg said. “The ACA has allowed the County and many other local governments to improve the quality of healthcare services dramatically, and countless residents have come to rely on healthcare programs built upon the ACA.”
Among the other 43 signees on the amicus brief are Monterey County, Oakland, San Francisco and the city and county of Santa Cruz.