U.S. appeals court to take up constitutionality of Obamacare

Obamacare returns to court creating new uncertainty about health coverage for millions

Obamacare returns to court creating new uncertainty about health coverage for millions

Federal appeals court judges expressed skepticism Tuesday that the almost decade-old law that refashioned the nation's health-care system should remain intact after Congress eliminated a tax penalty for Americans who fail to carry health insurance.

Judge Engelhardt, a Trump appointee, appeared to sympathetic to the Republicans' argument Tuesday, though bemoaned the court's role in refereeing what appeared to be a political dispute over how much of Obamacare should be left intact.

The Trump administration had initially opposed certain parts of the law tied to the mandate.

Attorneys for the state of Texas argue the health law can not stand since the Republican-led Congress in 2017 zeroed out Obamacare's individual mandate - a penalty imposed on people who chose to remain uninsured.

Two Republican-appointed judges on the appeals panel hearing a Trump-backed challenge to Obamacare - a majority of the three-judge panel - suggested Tuesday that they might side with a lower court judge who said previous year that the whole law should be struck down.

The impact, they warned, would be a largescale loss of affordable coverage for Minnesotans with pre-existing conditions, hundreds of thousands of people in the state could lose insurance coverage, including more than 200,000 who gained coverage under Medicaid expansion and insurers could decide not to cover essential benefits like mental health treatment and prescription drugs. The Trump administration is not defending the law and has filed arguments in favor of O'Connor's ruling. It was unclear when they expected to make a decision on the case.

The Supreme Court has twice upheld the health care law, but overturning it would have significant ramifications for the nation's health care system. But the administration made waves earlier this year when the Justice Department weighed in on the case, filing a brief saying that it agreed with the district court's ruling that the entire ACA is unconstitutional. Elrod was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2007.

"The district court in Texas could then go back and issue an injunction stopping the Affordable Care Act from operating", said Abbe Gluck, a law professor at Yale Law School. "The former enacted the ACA". On his first day as president, Trump signed an executive order blocking enforcement of the tax penalty for non-compliance with the individual mandate.

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Mr. Trump and his GOP allies insist they can develop a heath plan that covers sicker Americans outside of Obamacare, despite failing to do so in 2017. The plaintiff states had sought more time to answer the court's questions regarding the legal standing of the intervening states and the U.S. House of Representatives to appeal the ruling.

Justice Department attorney August Flentje, facing questions about the administration's approach, said the government would enforce it until a final decision comes.

"The sooner Obamacare is enjoined, the better, so that states and individuals can prepare to operate freely again", Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said past year.

"That means the choice is still there", he said. United States, was filed in February 2018 by a group of Republican attorneys general and two governors.

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

A number of Democratic-led states, led by California, and the U.S. House appealed the lower court's ruling invalidating the law, arguing that even though Congress eliminated the penalty, "doing so neither imposes any legal injury nor violates the Constitution", California Attorney General Xavier Becerra argued.

But over the last decade, most health care experts, seeing how the marketplaces have actually worked, have revised their view about the importance of having a penalty to ensure a stable market. 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. "It turns out, if the carrot is large enough, the stick is less important".

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