Two U.S. Supreme Court justices are showing interest in keeping the Affordable Care Act, otherwise called ‘Obamacare’ as the fate of the law which provides health insurance to 20 million people is being weighed by the court.
Though not yet decided, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh said they aren’t ready to cancel Obamacare completely even if Republican opposers succeed in invalidating the individual mandate, which requires people to acquire insurance.
While speaking to a lawyer defending the case on behalf of the House of Representative Kavanaugh said, “I tend to agree with you this is a very straightforward case for severability under our precedents, meaning that we would excise the mandate and leave the rest of the act in place,”
President Trump’s administration is backing Republican states who are challenging the law, which the GOP has been working to strike out since it was enacted in 2010.
The mandate originally carried a tax penalty for noncompliance, a provision that was central to a 2012 Supreme Court ruling that upheld the 2010 law. A Republican-controlled Congress zeroed-out the tax in 2017, and opponents now say the whole ACA must be invalidated.
Roberts, who wrote the 2012 ruling, expressing his disagreement says, “I think it’s hard for you to argue Congress intended the entire act to fall if the mandate was struck down if the same Congress that lowered the tax penalty to zero did not even try to repeal the rest of the act.”
With health care accounting for a sixth of the US economy, what is at stake is huge. The challenge puts at risk the health care of more than 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, including positive coronavirus cases, according to estimates from the liberal Center for American Progress.
The Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama, was a health-care overhaul. It expanded the Medicaid program for the poor, gave consumers subsidies, created marketplaces to shop for insurance policies, allows insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions, and permits children to stay on their parents’ policies until 26 years.
However, the Act became more vulnerable when Barrett took after late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was one of two justices to support all aspects of the Act in 2012.