Trump administration asks Supreme Court to overturn ‘Obamacare’June 27, 2020
WASHINGTON – The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to strike down the Affordable Care Act, escalating a long-running battle over former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law that could cause millions of Americans to lose their health insurance.
The administration filed a brief with the court just before a midnight deadline, throwing its weight behind a case brought by Texas and 17 other Republican-led states that argue the law became unconstitutional when Congress eliminated the tax penalty meant to enforce the “individual mandate” to buy insurance.
With the country already in the grip of COVID-19, the move puts a spotlight on health care issues and hands Democrats a potent talking point ahead of November’s election.
“A Republican victory in this lawsuit would be an American catastrophe,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said in a statement Friday. “If President Trump gets his way, tens of millions of people will lose their health care in the middle of a global pandemic, families’ health care costs will skyrocket just as unemployment is doing the same, and communities of color will suffer even more as the health disparities already exacerbated by COVID-19 become even worse.”
An analysis published Wednesday by the left-wing Center for American Progress estimated that 23.3 million people, including 99,000 Idahoans and 654,000 Washingtonians, would lose insurance coverage if the lawsuit succeeds. It could also remove requirements that insurers guarantee coverage for preexisting conditions and cover the cost of vaccinations.
Republicans have long opposed the law, often called “Obamacare,” on the grounds that it gives government too much control in private insurance markets.
The individual mandate has been another frequent target of the GOP’s ire.
“Health care must be affordable and accessible,” Rep. Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho, said in a statement Friday. “Unfortunately, the ACA requires consumers to buy health plans that include 10 Essential Health Benefits – whether they need them or not – dramatically raising the consumers’ premiums and deductibles. Additionally, the individual mandate adds a tax that many families cannot afford. Both of these provisions need to be eliminated and I hope to see the Supreme Court take action.”
That tax penalty, which congressional Republicans eliminated in 2017, has not existed since 2019. The Affordable Care Act has been the target of dozens of lawsuits since Obama signed it into law in 2010, and the current challenge is the third time its fate has come before the nation’s highest court. In a 2012 decision, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberal justices to uphold the law, ruling that the penalty used to enforce the individual mandate was a tax, which the Constitution gives Congress the power to impose.
At the same time, the court effectively made another part of the law, its expansion…