Trump admin. requests Supreme Court invalidate Obamacare

Grant Boone
June 28, 2020

The Supreme Court is unlikely to hear the case before voters go to the polls in November, US media report.

The brief is at odds with the president's own statements on health care reform and comes as the nation struggles to curb the transmission of the coronavirus. "But despite all that, Donald Trump and Republicans are asking the Supreme Court to destroy the Affordable Care Act".

Likewise Thom Tillis of North Carolina has proposed legislation intending to restore pre-existing conditions protections if the court overturns the ACA, but no GOP bill would fully restore the ACA's benefits that aid people with pre-existing conditions, like guaranteed coverage for prescription drugs, hospital stays, maternity, an end to lifetime caps and so on.

Traditionally, Republicans have supported protections for people with preexisting conditions, but with a limitation that individuals have to keep up their coverage to qualify. Dismantling the ACA would leave more than 23 million people without healthcare plans, according to a recent analysis by the liberal-leaning think tank Center for American Progress. The Republican lawyer said there was still time to amend the White House's position before filing a brief with the high court. "A global pandemic does not change what Americans know - Obamacare has been an unlawful failure", spokesperson Judd Deere said Friday.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden rebuked the administration for its "cruel" and "heartless" filing during a speech in Pennsylvania.

The Trump administration signalled earlier in the day that it would asked the court to declare the ACA illegal, setting up what is likely to be a key political battleground in this year's presidential election. A 5-4 Court led by Chief Justice John Roberts sustained the mandate on tax grounds but rejected arguments that it was a valid exercise of congressional power over commerce. The lawsuit was brought forward by Republican officials from Texas and 17 other states. They argue the mandate can't be upheld as a tax if it isn't making the government any money.

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"The individual mandate can not be severed from the remainder of the ACA", Solicitor General Noel Francisco wrote in a new court filing (pdf). In legal parlance, that issue is called "severability".

The Trump administration's views on what parts of the ACA might be kept or replaced if the law is overturned have shifted over time.

"Nothing the 2017 Congress did demonstrates it would have intended the rest of the ACA to continue to operate in the absence of these three integral provisions", Mr Francisco said late on Thursday. Blue states and the U.S. House say the case has no merit. They counter that severability is a question of Congress's intent.

Trump has claimed that Obamacare would be replaced with a bill that would protect pre-existing conditions, but the White House has not offered even a framework of any replacement bill.

"Now that the very expensive, unpopular and unfair Individual Mandate provision has been terminated by us, many States & the USA are asking the Supreme Court that Obamacare itself be terminated so that it can be replaced with a FAR BETTER AND MUCH LESS EXPENSIVE ALTERNATIVE", Trump tweeted Saturday morning. A decision is expected by the spring or summer of 2021.

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