It's unlikely the high courtwill hear and issue a decision on the health insurance law beforethe November presidential election.

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to speed up itsreview of the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act,rejecting requests by the U.S. House and a coalition ofDemocratic-led states that wanted the court to hear the disputethis term as the Trump administration and a host of Republican-ledstates move to dismantle the law.

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The justices' decision on timing makes it unlikely the highcourt will hear and issue a decision on the health insurance lawbefore the November presidential election. The Trumpadministration's Justice Department had argued that there was no rushto consider the law's fate, a potentially politically divisiveissue for the Republican Party and more broadly the 2020election.

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Related: How would a Supreme Court hearing of the ACA playout politically?

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The court, without comment, denied requests by the U.S. Houseand a coalition of 16 Democratic-led states that wanted thejustices to expedite their review of a decision last month by theU.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. A divided panel ruledthat the individual mandate to purchase health insurance—which theSupreme Court upheld in 2012 as a constitutional tax—was no longerconstitutional because Congress in 2017 zeroed out the tax penaltyfor failure to have insurance.

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The panel decision largely affirmed a ruling in December 2018 byU.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor in Texas. But the appellate panelsent back to O'Connor the question of whether Congress intendedother provisions of the law to remain operable. O'Connor hadearlier decided that the mandate was so central to the law that theentire law must fall.

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If the entire Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, as arguedby the Trump administration's Justice Department and the Republicancoalition, the law's insurance coverage would end for an estimated20 million people, including protection for people withpre-existing conditions, the Medicaid expansion in many states,coverage for young persons up to age 26 on their parents' plans,subsidies for low-income people and a host of other wide-rangingchanges.

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The Fifth Circuit's decision "poses a severe, immediate, andongoing threat to the orderly operation of healthcare marketsthroughout the country, casts doubt over whether millions ofindividuals will continue to be able to afford vitally importantcare, and leaves a critical sector of the nation's economy inunacceptable limbo," House general counsel DouglasLetter told the justices. Letteris assisted by Munger, Tolles &Olson partner Donald Verrilli Jr. and Elizabeth Wydra of theConstitutional Accountability Center.

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But U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco counteredin his response  that the FifthCircuit's decision did not "definitively" resolve any question ofpractical significance.

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The appeals panel, Francisco told the justices, sent the caseback to the district court to determine whether the mandate andother provisions could be severed from the law. The House's reasonfor speeding up proceedings, Francisco wrote, "at bottom, is thatthe vitality of the ACA's myriad provisions is too important to beleft unresolved. But definitive resolution of that issue will befacilitated, not frustrated, by allowing the lower courts tocomplete their own consideration of the question."

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The Justice Department argued initially that only thoseprovisions closely tied to the mandate—for example, the requirementto sell coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and not tocharge them more—should be struck down with the mandate. But whenACA defenders appealed, the administration changed its position tosupport the GOP challengers' argument that the entire law mustfall.

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The justices on Friday did agree to hear another Obamacare case,taking up a dispute over a Trump Administration rule expanding thetypes of employers who can claim religious exemptions fromproviding contraceptive coverage. A decision in that case isexpected by June.

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Marcia Coyle

Marcia Coyle, based in Washington, covers the U.S. Supreme Court. Contact her at [email protected]. On Twitter: @MarciaCoyle