Obamacare 'individual mandate' constitutionality doubted by appeals court judges

Obamacare 'individual mandate' constitutionality doubted by appeals court judges

Court decision could affect health care coverage for millions of Americans; Casey Stegall reports. "You can see now how dramatic it would be to allow that to occur without the opportunity to appeal the lower court's decision".

Republicans including President Donald Trump have repeatedly and unsuccessfully tried to repeal the ACA since it was passed in 2010.

Democrats gave a preview of their health care messaging now that the lawsuit is back in the headlines.

The Republican coalition, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, maintains that the change rendered the mandate itself unconstitutional. The Trump administration had previously announced it would continue to administer the ACA until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the case. A third, appointed by Democratic President Jimmy Carter, stayed silent throughout the almost two-hour oral argument hearing in New Orleans, which follows a December decision by federal Judge Reed O'Connor of the Northern District of Texas calling for the law to be struck down. "When the law was stripped of its revenue-raising penalty, the mandate and the entire law are now unconstitutional", Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Tuesday.

People who would lose health coverage if the law is dismantled could then file a new lawsuit seeking to reinstate Obamacare, said Joshua Blackman, a professor at the South Texas College of Law in Houston. "The trial court has said that it's not constitutional".

On Tuesday, attorneys for California and the House of Representatives, which also has joined the suit to defend the law, urged the appellate court to preserve the law, in part because there is no evidence that Congress meant to repeal the whole law when it eliminated the mandate penalty in 2017.

Insurance companies Centene Corp. and Molina Health Inc., which have large Obamacare enrollments, would have their business models upended if the law is tossed out. The judges have already asked the sides to weigh in on whether Democrats can defend the law if Trump won't. He said the legal remedy for those states would involve only the parts of the law that have harmed them.

Defenders of the law have expressed concerns recently that the 5th Circuit could throw out the case on procedural grounds after the appellate court asked the Democratic-led states and the House late last month to explain their legal standing in intervening and appealing the ruling.

Employers could return to placing annual and lifetime limits on employees' health care or not providing it at all, and preventative care no longer would be assured by federal subsidies.

Why it matters to patients and physicians: A Texas-led coalition of 20 states argued that, because Congress reduced the individual tax penalty down to $0, the entire ACA should be eliminated also. The Finance package will focus primarily on Medicare Part B and D as well as Medicaid, making the pathway to passage challenging as aspects of the deal will have to be considered by the House of Representatives.

This issue brief answers key inquiries concerning the case paving the way to the oral ion on request. In an unprecedented move, the Trump administration refused to defend the ACA in court, despite it being the law of the land, and instead formally requested the court to strike down the entire health care law, which would jeopardize coverage for 21 million people and eliminate protections for the 133 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, including roughly 860,000 New Mexicans.

Twelve million seniors who have saved millions of dollars on their prescription drugs under the ACA will no longer receive these savings.



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