It’s not just that 21 million people would probably lose health insurance, or that 133 million Americans with pre-existing conditions would lose their protection. Those effects would be the major focus of attention if the Affordable Care Act were to be struck down.
But the law was much, much broader, affecting a wide range of health programs, even some areas you might not think of as related to health. Overturning the entire law would mean all of its parts, in theory, would go away at once.
On Tuesday, a federal appeals court heard arguments from 18 Republican-led states and the Justice Department that the law should be invalidated. In some ways, that echoes arguments made to the courts in 2012, before much of the law was first put in. Repealing it then would have been a big deal. But doing so now, after so many of its provisions have unspooled, would be much trickier and more consequential.