Santa Clara County Files Amicus Brief Defending the ACA

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.


  1. “Under the ACA, we are able to better serve our communities both in times of wellness and in times of emergency.” But what improvement has that wellness service actually delivered?

    The National Institutes of Health in “A Critical Analysis of Obamacare” states, “The ACA has widened the gap between providing patients the mechanism of paying for healthcare and actually receiving it. The ACA is applauded for increasing the number of insured, quite appropriately as that has occurred for over 20 million people. Less frequently mentioned are the 6 million who have lost their insurance. Further, in terms of how health insurance is been provided, the majority the expansion was based on Medicaid expansion, with an increase of 13 million. Consequently, the ACA hasn’t worked well for the working and middle class who receive much less support, particularly those who earn more than 400% of the federal poverty level, who constitute 40% of the population and don’t receive any help. As a result, exchange enrollment has been a disappointment and the percentage of workers obtaining their health benefits from their employer has decreased steadily. Access to health care has been uneven, with those on Medicaid hampered by narrow networks, while those on the exchanges or getting employer benefits have faced high out-of-pocket costs.”

    AFAIK, we haven’t seen positive outcomes in low income areas that are eligible for ACA. In fact, just the opposite as SJI recently reported about COVID impacts in lower income zip codes.

    Sure seems like it’s time to implement something that works instead of clinging to a program that’s produced scant, if any, tangible health benefits.

  2. “Medicaid expansion” is code for free health care for people here illegally. But someone always pays, and In this case it’s the taxpayers and their insurance companies who end up having to pay jacked up prices for the care their insureds get to cover the losses caused by the free care to illegals.

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