- The Washington Times
Monday, March 2, 2020

The Supreme Court announced Monday it will take up the challenge to Obamacare’s individual mandate.

The case likely will be heard in the fall, with a decision expected by June 2021.


A federal appeals court ruled last year that the mandate requiring all Americans to have insurance or pay a penalty runs afoul of the Constitution because it is no longer a tax following President Trump’s decision to zero out the fine.

But the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, put off a thornier question — whether other parts of the law, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, can stand without the mandate.

The high court said it will consider the issue when it hears arguments later this year.

The case comes after groups of red and blue states have sued to test the impact of the Trump administration’s move to gut the individual mandate, which the Supreme Court had ruled was a tax when Obamacare was created.

In 2017 as part of the tax code overhaul, Congress zeroed out the penalty for not having coverage, which Mr. Trump signed. That move, lower courts ruled, resulted in the law being unconstitutional.

Mr. Trump, an outspoken critic of Obamacare, had called the decision from the lower court “a win for all Americans and confirms what I have said all along: that the individual mandate, by far the worst element of Obamacare, is unconstitutional.”

He reissued promises to deliver “the best health care in the world” and contrasted his plans with liberals’ push for a government-run health care system.

Democrats, meanwhile, have said Mr. Trump and his Republican pals jumped off a ledge without a parachute, using conservative judges as accomplices.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday the legal challenge is a way for Republicans to take away coverage for preexisting conditions.

“Make no mistake: A big reason that the fate of these vital health care protections is in the hands of the Supreme Court is because congressional Republicans and President Trump support the lawsuit to take health care away and haven’t lifted a finger to stop it,” Mr. Schumer said.

Mrs. Pelosi said the sooner the legal battle ends, the better.

“Every day, the Affordable Care Act provides lifesaving protections and coverage for families across America. Democrats will continue to fight in the courts and the Congress to defend and strengthen the Affordable Care Act and lower health costs for all Americans,” she said.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who is leading a group of the states defending the health care law’s legality, said leaders should work to improve coverage, not to take it away.

“As Texas and the Trump administration fight to disrupt our health care system and the coverage that millions of people rely upon, we look forward to making our case in defense of the ACA. American lives depend upon it,” Mr. Becerra said.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, meanwhile, opposes the legality of the health care law, saying that the Supreme Court determined in 2012 that the mandate is a tax and now that the tax has been removed, the ACA cannot continue to stand.

“The 5th Circuit correctly applied existing U.S. Supreme Court precedent when they ruled that the individual mandate itself was unconstitutional. Without the individual mandate, the entire law becomes unsupportable. The federal government cannot order private citizens to purchase subpar insurance that they don’t want, and I look forward to finally settling the matter before the U.S. Supreme Court,” Mr. Paxton said.

⦁ Tom Howell Jr. contributed to this report.


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