Supreme Court’s Next Obamacare Test to Happen a Week After Election

By | August 20, 2020

The U.S. Supreme Court said it will hear its blockbuster clash over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act on Nov. 10, a week after an election in which Democrats are seeking to make health care a central focus.

The justices plan to review a federal appeals court decision that found part of the original 2010 Obamacare law unconstitutional and left doubt about the rest of it. President Donald Trump’s administration is urging the court to say that the law, including its protections for people with pre-existing conditions, is invalid.

The argument timing could limit the attention on the case in the run-up to the Nov. 3 election. Although Trump has said he will protect people with pre-existing conditions, he has yet to propose a replacement should the court strike down Obamacare.

Democrats say overturning the law would be especially devastating during the Covid-19 pandemic, with millions of people out of work and at risk of losing their employer health insurance.

The Supreme Court upheld the law in 2012, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the court’s liberals in a 5-4 decision. All five members of that majority are still on the court.

The fight stems from a provision known as the individual mandate, which originally required people to acquire health insurance or pay a tax penalty. Roberts said in 2012 that provision was a legitimate use of Congress’s taxing power.

A Republican-controlled Congress later joined with Trump to eliminate the tax penalty, leaving the mandate without any practical consequences. Republican-controlled states then sued to challenge the law, saying the tax change required the entire measure to be invalidated. The Trump administration is largely backing that position at the Supreme Court.

Twenty other states and the District of Columbia are defending the law.

The Supreme Court case is California v. Texas, 19-840.

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