Wednesday, 23 October, 2019

Why court battle represents existential threat to Obamacare

Becerra speaks at the podium during a news conference in Sacramento Calif Rich Pedroncelli AP FILE Attorney General Xavier Becerra speaks at the podium during a news conference in Sacramento Calif
Samantha Long | 10 July, 2019, 04:26

A federal appeals court in New Orleans is hearing a case in which a lower court judge ruled the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional.

Republicans have repeatedly tried and failed to repeal Obamacare since its 2010 passage.

The panel is considering an appeal from Democrats, who say a judge in Texas erred by ruling the mandate is unconstitutional and can not be severed from the rest of the law - including its protections for people with preexisting conditions, subsidies for private insurance and expansion of Medicaid.

It was unclear when the court would issue a ruling or if it will actually make it to the Supreme Court, but the ultimate outcome will affect protections for people with pre-existing conditions, Medicaid expansions covering roughly 12 million people, and subsidies that help about 10 million others afford health insurance. Whichever way it rules, the decision could prompt an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, potentially setting up a major legal battle over healthcare for tens of millions of Americans in the midst of the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Engelhardt was nominated by President Donald Trump a year ago. The Justice Department isn't defending the law, but Democratic lawmakers and officials are.

O'Connor, nominated by former Republican President George W Bush, said that because Obamacare called the mandate "essential", the entire law must be struck down. For example, the law established a new federal office to support experiments by physicians and hospitals to improve quality and lower healthcare costs.

"These are faces of Americans, millions who will suffer if Republicans succeed in dismantling health care law", Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said during a press conference Tuesday alongside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calf.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit is set to hear oral arguments in the case of Texas v. Azar, a suit spearheaded a year ago by 20 Republican-leaning attorneys general (led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton) and endorsed by President Trump.

California and the 19 other states, as well as the District of Columbia, which won permission to defend the law when the Trump administration declined to do so, appealed to the federal court in New Orleans to reverse the Texas ruling. "Stripped of its tax status, the individual mandate is nothing more than an unconstitutional congressional mandate to purchase health insurance".

Unions tell Labour to back Remain in second EU vote
Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May is stepping down this month after failing to get her divorce plan through parliament. Labour pledged on Tuesday to campaign to Remain, if a poll was held, against no deal or a "damaging Tory Brexit".

Engelhardt, the Trump appointee, primarily grilled attorneys representing California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a score of other Democratic-led states andthe Democratic House.

Republican Governor Chris Sununu said Tuesday he intends to the sign the bill authored by Senate Democrats. That's because Chief Justice John Roberts justified upholding the law by saying Congress can tax whatever it wants.

Scheduled to hear Tuesday's arguments were 5th Circuit Judges Carolyn Dineen King, Jennifer Walker Elrod and Kurt Engelhardt. "That argument goes against well-established legal principles", Weiser said.

The government said in March that a total of 11.4 million people signed up during open enrollment season, a dip of about 300,000 from past year.

In a complicating twist, Justice Department attorneys also argued in papers filed with the court last week that the appeals court could invalidate the health care law only in the 18 red states that are suing.

In 2018, Democrats mainly relied on messaging that touted the Affordable Care Act and its coverage of pre-existing conditions. Since its passage, the health care law has ingrained itself deeply into the US health care system.

"President Trump and Republicans are playing a very risky game with people's lives", Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters on a conference call Monday.

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