Published: Wed, July 10, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

United States court to decide future of Obamacare

United States court to decide future of Obamacare

"If they have their way, millions of Americans could be forced to delay, skip or forego potentially life-saving healthcare", California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

The judges hearing the arguments were 5th Circuit Judges Carolyn Dineen King, Jennifer Walker Elrod and Kurt Engelhardt. "We haven't gone down that road yet". The panel didn't issue a ruling Tuesday.

Indeed, there is little evidence that eliminating the penalty has jeopardized the health care law's broader program for expanding health coverage.

A strong undertow from the presidential campaign and an unpopular Trump and a national policy lurch to the far right - fueled by a Collins-approved Supreme Court - including the loss of health care for tens of thousands of Mainers would significantly undermine her case for re-election. This is unacceptable. We should be working together toward commonsense solutions that lower costs and expand quality coverage, not yanking the rug out from under millions of Americans who depend on the ACA to obtain life-saving treatment and critical care. If President Trump and Republicans succeed in overturning the ACA, Gabe and Leslie are anxious about what the loss of protections and comprehensive care would mean for people with preexisting conditions like their daughter.

The lawsuit, first filed in 2018, contends that the Affordable Care Act's requirement that most everyone have insurance coverage - otherwise known as the individual mandate - is unconstitutional.

With Trump's encouragement, Republican lawmakers repeatedly tried to repeal the law, ultimately failing in July 2017 when the late John McCain, the maverick senator from Arizona, made a thumbs-down gesture on the Senate floor. The GOP succeeded only in eliminating the penalty later that year, leaving the rest of the ACA intact.

The Texas federal court that declared the law unconstitutional in December said the mandate was "the keystone" and that in its absence entire law should be struck down.

"Billions of dollars of private and public investment - impacting every corner of the American health system - have been made based on the existence of the ACA", says a friend-of-the-court brief filed by a bipartisan group of economists and other health policy experts to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Two judges, both appointed by Republican presidents, questioned the constitutionality of the law's requirement that most Americans get health care coverage.

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Douglas Letter, the House of Representatives' general counsel, argued that since Congress had not repealed the rest of Obamacare, it never meant to invalidate the entire law.

The law's supporters say Congress clearly didn't want "Obamacare" dismantled when it eliminated the tax in 2017. The question of how much of the law may rightly be salvaged was a focal point of court discussions Tuesday.

"Courts are required to give a statute a constitutional interpretation if you can and save everything unless Congress prefers no statute", he argued.

State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey noted increasing premiums as one reason for backing the lawsuit.

"Congress can fix this", he said at one point. But now its Justice Department is agreeing with Texas that the entire law should be struck down because, they insist, the law's many provisions are intertwined.

When the challenge was in the lower court, the Justice Department said it didn't need a specific judicial order halting the ACA because the federal government would treat the judge's decision as a nationwide injunction.

Neither side advocates taxidermy; both sides take an absolute position on severability. In that ruling, conservative justices rejected the argument that Congress could require everyone to buy insurance under the Constitution's interstate commerce clause.

"That raises complicated issues, and we are appreciative of the existence of the stay until there's a final ruling", Flentje said.

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