Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Judges Appear Set to Rule Against Obamacare Individual Mandate

A panel of federal appeals court judges on Tuesday sounded likely to uphold a lower-court ruling that a central provision of the Affordable Care Act — the requirement that most people have health insurance — is unconstitutional, reports The New York Times.

Here is the current situation:
The Affordable Care Act requires most Americans to have health insurance and pay a tax penalty if they don't.
  • In 2012, the Supreme Court said the mandate alone would exceed Congress' power, but that the penalty for being uninsured is OK because it is a tax.
  • The 2017 tax law zeroed out the penalty for being uninsured — the part the Supreme Court upheld. But the mandate to buy insurance is still on the books.
  • The Trump administration says that means the mandate has effectively become unconstitutional since the court upheld it only as a tax. And, they argue, the courts should throw out the entire law as a result.
According to the Times, the two Republican appointees, Jennifer Walker Elrod, appointed by President George W. Bush in 2007, and Kurt Engelhardt, appointed by President Trump in 2018, on the three judge panel, seemed particularly skeptical of the Democratic defendants’ argument that Congress had fully intended to keep the rest of the law when it eliminated the penalty for going without insurance as part of its 2017 tax overhaul.

The case could make its way to the Supreme Court ahead of the presidential election.


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