Validity of Obama health care law at issue in appeal hearing

Validity of Obama health care law at issue in appeal hearing

A federal appeals court will hear arguments from 18 states and the U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday in a case that has the potential to derail the Affordable Care Act almost a decade after it took effect. "That argument goes against well-established legal principles", Weiser said.

If they uphold the lower court decision, millions of Americans, many of them sickly or lower income individuals, would be in danger of losing their health care coverage.

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.

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. The case is likely headed to the Supreme Court, where the same five-justice majority that has twice voted to uphold the law — in 2012 and 2015 — remains in place.

And he said determining which parts of a law can be salvaged and which must be removed is clearly a task for the courts, established by Supreme Court precedent.

On Friday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra - who is leading a coalition of 20 blue states in defending the ACA - argued that the removal of the individual mandate did not invalidate the law.

In passing the tax bill that eliminated the ACA's tax penalty but nothing else, Congress "made the judgment that it wanted the insurance reforms and the rest of the ACA to remain even in the absence of an enforceable insurance mandate", wrote law professors Jonathan Adler, Nicholas Bagley, Abbe Gluck and Ilya Somin.

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The Democratic lawyers fighting to preserve the law argued that the Republican Congress had tried and failed to repeal the ACA two years ago and that by eliminating the penalty in late 2017 as part of broad tax changes, it had not touched any other parts of the sprawling statute. Conservative justices had rejected the argument that Congress could require everyone to buy insurance under the Constitution's interstate commerce clause.

The opposed states argue the law is a cavalier attempt to mandate Americans buy health insurance the government deems suitable and necessary. But Chief Justice John Roberts, joining four liberal justices, said Congress did have the power to impose a tax on those without insurance.

When the law was proposed, friends and foes of "Obamacare" agreed that the tax was essential to persuade healthy people to get insured, thereby keeping premiums in check. The third judge on the panel, Carolyn Dineen King, was appointed by President Jimmy Carter.

The outcome will apply to all states, but is expected to be appealed to the US Supreme Court. Elrod was nominated by Republican President George W. Bush in 2007.

At one point, Engelhardt suggested that it was up to Congress to forge a solution to the disputes that have dogged the law since its passage, when Democrats controlled Congress and President Barack Obama was just over a year into his tenure.

A key portion of the federal Affordable Care Act that gives protection to people with pre-existing conditions will soon be enshrined in New Hampshire state law.

"If the right wing wins the lawsuit, families from one end of America to the other will lose", Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said from the Capitol steps, where Democrats held photos of Americans who've gained coverage or marketplace protections from Obamacare.

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