Even if the court rules the states have legal standing, the ACA opponents must prove the elimination of a penalty makes the entire law unconstitutional.

Attorneys for GOP-controlled states seeking to kill the Affordable Care Act told the Supreme Court last week that at least some of the 12 million people who newly enrolled in Medicaid signed up only because of the law's requirement that people have insurance coverage — although a tax penalty no longer exists.

The statement drew a rebuke from Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who said it belies reason. Several health experts also questioned the argument that poor people apply for Medicaid not because they need help getting health care but to meet the ACA's individual mandate for coverage.

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