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Supreme Court to Hear Obamacare Appeal
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Summary:  The Supreme Court agreed to hear Texas v. California, the last challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

The US Supreme court announced Monday it will consider a case that has the potential to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA), colloquially known as Obamacare.  

The fate of Obamacare, however, will be decided sometime next term presumably after the presidential election.

  
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The court’s move ensures another major shift in the political landscape during the election season. The case marks the third significant challenge to a law that has dominated American politics for the last decade. 

Former President Barack Obama’s signature health-care legislation has twice before faced challenges at the nation’s highest court. 

A constant target of Republican attacks in the courts since it was first passed a decade ago, Obamacare has so far withstood scrutiny from the justices.

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In December 2019, a federal appeals court ruled that the ACA’s individual mandate which requires every American to have healthcare insurance is unconstitutional. The lower-court decision was appealed by Nineteen Democratic states, which is now in review. 

The latest blow on ACA is rooted in the individual mandate, a section of the law that requires all Americans to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. In 2017, Congress reduced the penalty for failing to obtain health insurance, to $0 as part of Trump’s tax reform push.



The Trump administration sided with Republican states led by Texas, arguing that the elimination of the penalty meant the individual mandate could no longer stand as a tax. 

Xavier Becerra, California’s attorney general, said the case, California v. Texas, No. 19-840, underscored the two sides’ differing approaches to the Affordable Care Act.

We should all be working to improve health care instead of ripping coverage away from those most in need,” he said in a statement. As Texas and the Trump administration fight to disrupt our health care system and the coverage that millions rely upon, we look forward to making our case in defense of the A.C.A. American lives depend upon it.

According to CNN, the third case is a victory for supporters of the law. They wanted the case to be heard this term, but their secondary argument was for next.

For the third time, the fate of the Affordable Care Act almost certainly rests in the hands of Chief Justice (John) Roberts — who has already voted twice to reject challenges to the statute. And the fact that any decision will come on the far side of the 2020 elections was certainly part of the court’s calculus in agreeing to take up the case, as they’d previously refused to expedite the dispute so it could be resolved by this summer,” said Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law.

The fact that the court is stepping in now may be a good sign for the Affordable Care Act’s defenders. The Court of Appeals had, perhaps disingenuously, held that there was still work for the trial court to do even in concluding that the ACA was unconstitutional, but the Justices aren’t waiting for that to happen,” Vladeck said. “That’s an odd move if the justices are planning to simply agree with the lower courts, but a move that makes a lot more sense if a majority has doubts.

While Republicans are mostly silent, Democrats immediately seized on the decision with a flurry of press releases to highlight the stakes for the election.

“This case is a stark, life-and-death reminder how much is at stake this fall and what’s on the ballot right now: Democrats must nominate the candidate whom they know can beat Trump and bring along the Senate, to ensure we can protect our health care for generations to come,” Former Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement.

A spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee called the lawsuit the “single most important issue in Senate battlegrounds across the country.

Thanks to Donald Trump, pre-existing condition protections are on the chopping block this fall,” Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, said in a statement on Monday shortly after the court’s announcement. “Americans who count on their health care will hear loud and clear who is fighting to secure protections for pre-existing conditions, and who is trying to take them away.”

The Affordable Care Act law remains almost entirely intact in the meantime but faces an uncertain future.



 

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