Appeals court panel grills Democratic defenders on constitutionality of Obamacare

Grant Boone
July 10, 2019

In fact, he argued "there's less coercion than there was before" to buy insurance.

But in a surprise move in March, the Justice Department said it now agrees with the December ruling that the entire Affordable Care Act should be struck down.

Around 400,000 are on Medicaid through the Medicaid expansion granted under the law.

That was down only slightly from the 11.8 million consumers who signed up for 2018, before repeal of the mandate penalty took effect.

Any kind of ruling by a panel of three judges is likely to send the health care law to the Supreme Court, possibly in the midst of the 2020 presidential election.

"If the law is wiped out, so too would be insurance for 20 million people, protection for people with preexisting conditions, subsidies for low-income people, Medicaid expansions in many states, coverage for young adults up to age 26 and more".

University of MI law professor Nicholas Bagley, who has closely tracked litigation related to the health care law, said federal courts are usually reluctant to pry too deeply into inconsistencies in how government officials justify their actions.

The defendant in the case is technically the Trump administration. "Courts can get pushed to the point where they say this is too much to swallow". A third, appointed by Democratic President Jimmy Carter, stayed silent throughout the almost two-hour oral argument hearing in New Orleans, which follows a December decision by federal Judge Reed O'Connor of the Northern District of Texas calling for the law to be struck down. "The former enacted the ACA". "The common argument that the individual mandate is valuable is misguided". "The faces you see behind us are faces of Americans millions of Americans who will suffer if Republicans succeed in dismantling our healthcare law".

"For the first time ever, after a history of double-digit increases for years, premiums have declined", she said.

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Bush appointee, and Judge Kurt Engelhardt, a Donald Trump appointee, pressed a Department of Justice attorney about what would happen if the courts found that the law was unconstitutional.

Carrying photographs of Americans with pre-existing medical conditions, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi hold a photograph of Emilie Saltzman as they lead a group of Democratic members of Congress down the steps of the US Capitol to a news conference July 9, 2019 in Washington, DC.

"That means the choice is still there", he said.

The Utah Attorney General's Office said executive and legislative leaders are "united" in this effort.

Less than two months after making that argument, however, Hunt argued something very different to the federal appellate court in New Orleans.

Speaking on behalf of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and the 18 other states involved in the case, the state's Solicitor General Kyle Hawkins urged the panel to rule that ObamaCare is unconstitutional in its entirety, arguing that when Congress enacted President Trump's tax overhaul, it rendered ObamaCare unconstitutional by doing away with the tax penalty for violating the plan's individual mandate. He said the legal remedy for those states would involve only the parts of the law that have harmed them.

Opponents have said the ACA amounts to an unconstitutional mandate to buy insurance.

"Once those core provisions are excised, the balance of the ACA can not continue to operate as intended".

Notably, the Trump administration is not defending the law. This is unacceptable. We should be working together toward commonsense solutions that lower costs and expand quality coverage, not yanking the rug out from under millions of Americans who depend on the ACA to obtain life-saving treatment and critical care.

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