Supreme Court dumps fate of Affordable Care Act into height of election

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By MARK GRUENBERG
PAI Staff Writer

Washington (PAI) — The U.S. Supreme Court has dumped the fate of the Affordable Care Act right into the height of the 2020 election campaign, but won’t rule on whether the ACA survives until after the Nov. 3 balloting.

In the meantime, supporters, including American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, top congressional Democrats and leading progressive and health care organizations, are calling out the partisan maneuvering that continues to threaten the healthcare law.

The justices on March 2 agreed to hear a case (actually two combined cases, California vs Texas and U.S. House of Representatives vs Texas) brought by Republican state officials, who argue that when Congress in 2017 zeroed out the penalty for failing to obtain health insurance, lawmakers rendered the entire law unconstitutional.

The Trump administration has sided with the state officials, arguing that the rest of the health care law could not survive without the individual mandate requiring most Americans to have health insurance.

The case is among the first the justices have decided to hear next term, which starts the first Monday of October. Since the court’s term runs through the end of June 2021, it’s all but certain there will be no ruling in the case before voters go to the polls this fall.

The timing of the hearing, and the continued threat to the ACA, has Weingarten and other supporters seeing red.

“That yet another challenge to the ACA has been brought by President Trump and Republican governors to the Supreme Court demonstrates their continued callous disregard to the healthcare needs of Americans. This is a ‘Which side are you on?’ moment,” Weingarten said.

“The Republican Party wants to deny coverage for anyone with a pre-existing condition,” she noted.  Trump has repeatedly promised to protect people with pre-existing conditions, one of the most popular sections of the ACA, but he and his party have tried repeatedly to repeal the law without any sort of real plan to replace it. Republicans, when they controlled the U.S. House, voted 62 times to repeal the law.

A negative decision in the case currently before the High Court could leave millions without health coverage.

“Because the White House was unsuccessful in its attempt to repeal the ACA in Congress, it will use any means to destroy our country’s prevailing healthcare law,” said Weingarten. “Republicans have lied…about their strategy” to kill the ACA, referring to the Trump-GOP plan to delay the court’s oral arguments until after the election. “They know the public is against them.”

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