Tennessee has joined 20 Republican-led states in asking the courts to overturn the Affordable Care Act. The lawsuit filed in Texas on Monday contends that without the individual mandate, Obamacare is unconstitutional.
States have already taken a case against Obamacare to the Supreme Court, arguing that the government can’t make citizens buy insurance. The high court narrowly decided in 2012 that because the individual mandate was enforced through a tax penalty, it was allowed.
But the tax cut package signed into law by President Trump zeros out the penalty for people who don’t buy insurance. So Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery says the mandate is no longer a tax at all — which means, while it has no teeth, it is now unconstitutional, in Slatery's view.
"Since the Supreme Court has already held that Congress has no authority to impose the individual mandate on Americans without invoking its taxing authority, the repeal of the tax renders the individual mandate unconstitutional," Slatery said in a statement.
The Texas-led lawsuit suggests that the Affordable Care Act itself is unconstitutional since it is dependent on everyone buying insurance — a point Democrats have started to move away from.
All of the states involved have Republican governors except Louisiana, which has a Republican Attorney General, Jeff Landry.
Under Slatery's predecessor — who was a Democrat — Tennessee did not participate in multi-state litigation challenging Obamacare, including the 2012 lawsuit that went to the Supreme Court.