The Supreme Court will hear a case today challenging the Affordable Care Act (also commonly known as ObamaCare), this time with a clear conservative majority (https://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/525203-obamacare-faces-supreme-court-test-with-new-conservative-majority). The Affordable Care Act was initially passed in 2010 when Democrats last had control of both the White House and Congress. Many on the left have praised it, arguing that it has improved the cost of healthcare and provided opportunities for lower income families to receive insurance. Many critics on the right have complained that it has disrupted existing healthcare plans and has drastically increased the national deficit.
This is not the first time ObamaCare has been challenged in court, let alone the Supreme Court. ObamaCare has been upheld each time, most notably in the 2011 case National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius where the Supreme Court decided 5-4 in favor of Congress’s authority to pass the act, redefining it as a tax. Part of President Trump’s 2016 campaign pledged to repeal ObamaCare, but that has not been accomplished yet. While somewhat diminished from its initial conception, ACA has remained active for the past decade.
This most recent challenge comes under new circumstances. The Supreme Court now has new members thanks to the nominations by President Trump and conservative judges hold a 6-3 majority. Despite this, Americans recently voted in favor of presidential candidate Joe Biden who has pledged to strengthen and improve ObamaCare with the passage of what he calls “BidenCare”. On top of all of this the United States is still fighting through the Coronavirus pandemic, with surges happening in several states.
The American Medical Association released an amicus brief stating, “Invalidating provisions that have expanded access to health insurance coverage ... would have a devastating impact on doctors, patients, and the American health care system in normal times. However, striking down the ACA at a time when the system is struggling to respond to a pandemic would be a self-inflicted wound that could take decades to heal." While we may not see the entire act repealed, key parts of the legislation may be struck down or altered. Is this a healthy limit to the scope and power of the federal government, or a dangerous move considering the current state of the country?
Image Credit: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times