The Supreme Court is hearing arguments today (November 10) against the Affordable Care Act in a third attempt by opposers of the legislation.
The first two attempts to get the bill repealed failed after the Supreme Court ruled in a vote 5-4 and later 6-3 to keep Obamacare intact for over a decade, providing healthcare coverage for millions.
Today’s hearing is different because the makeup of the high court has new justices, many appointed by Donald Trump, including Supreme Court newcomer Amy Coney Barrett.
Many of the original opposers of the bill have come out to say this latest attempt is a reach, and are not in attendance at today’s hearing.
The Affordable Care Act was controversial when it was first enacted in 2010. The part of the bill that stirred opposition was its requirement that people buy health insurance coverage or face a financial penalty.
Chief Justice John Roberts and other conservative justices on the court in 2012 said the requirement overstepped Congress’ power.
Justice Roberts eventually provided the fifth vote to uphold the penalty anyway citing that the fine amounted to a tax, which is within Congress’ power, and Obamacare survived.
This latest challenge has been brought to the high court by Texas, other Republican-led states, and the Trump administration.
The challenge was brought on the grounds that the penalty imposed by Obamacare does not raise any revenue, disqualifying it as a tax, and therefore unconstitutional.
Opponents of the Act want the whole bill struck down. Today’s hearing, the Supreme Court will likely be deciding if the language of the law will be changed or if the language of the penalty is so connected to the rest of the bill that the entire act will need to be struck down.
The gravity of striking down the bill in its entirety include the loss of discrimination protection for people with preexisting conditions, including those who have battled COVID-19.
In a statement, Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “We think it clear that Congress would prefer that we use a scalpel rather than a bulldozer in curing the constitutional defect we identify today.”
The outcome of today’s decision will have a lasting impact on the healthcare field, and for millions of Americans during a global health pandemic.
Photo: Getty Images