The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an effort by Democrats to expedite a challenge to a lower court's ruling striking down a key tenet of ObamaCare, narrowing the possibility that the court takes up the contentious case this year.
The House of Representatives and a group of blue states had asked the court to fast-track their appeal after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate is unconstitutional.
"Under the current state of affairs, there is considerable doubt over whether millions of individuals will continue to be able to afford vitally important care," the House wrote in a court filing earlier this month.
"Millions of individuals will live with the insecurity of not knowing that they have access to affordable health care, and will be forced to make important life decisions without knowing how those decisions will affect their continued access to such care."
"If the Court does not hear the case this Term, that uncertainty will likely persist through next year’s open enrollment period," the House wrote.
Tuesday's order makes it unlikely that the high court will rule on the health care law before the November presidential election, where health insurance policy is sure to play a prominent role.
The 5th Circuit's ruling delivered a victory for the coalition of conservative state attorneys general challenging the Obama administration's signature achievement.
The Trump administration has declined to defend the Affordable Care Act in court, and the president has cheered on legal efforts to dismantle it.
“This decision will not alter the current healthcare system,” President Trump said in a statement last month. “My Administration continues to work to provide access to high-quality healthcare at a price you can afford, while strongly protecting those with pre-existing conditions. The radical healthcare changes being proposed by the far left would strip Americans of their current coverage. I will not let this happen.”
It's still unclear whether the Supreme Court will decide to hear the challenge to the 5th Circuit ruling. Now that the justices have chosen to adhere to a normal briefing schedule, that decision will likely not come until March at the earliest.