Appeals court skeptical Obamacare can survive

A panel of federal appeals judges aggressively questioned whether Obamacare can survive during Tuesday afternoon oral arguments in a case that could upend the 2010 health care law.Two Republican appointees on the three-judge panel frequently interrupted attorneys to question whether the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate is unconstitutional and if not whether the entire law could stand without it. The ACA’s future appeared murky after two hours of oral arguments at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but it’s not clear if the judges were ready to uphold a federal judge’s earlier decision invalidating the law.

The lawsuit, which is supported by the Trump administration, puts at risk coverage for 20 million people covered by the ACA, as well as the law’s popular protections for insurance protections. The closely watched case is expected to eventually move to the Supreme Court, which has saved the law twice already, and could ultimately decide Obamacare’s fate next year in the height of the 2020 campaign.

This latest legal threat to Obamacare was filed by a group of red states in February 2018, months after Republican-led efforts to repeal the law collapsed in Congress. They argue that Congress' decision to scrap the individual mandate penalty in its 2017 tax cut rendered the law unconstitutional because the Supreme Court previously upheld the mandate as a valid exercise of taxing power. Congress lowered the penalty for not purchasing health coverage to $0, but the mandate remains on the books.

In December, U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor sided with the Republican-led states, shocking legal experts. The lawsuit was once seen as a long-shot, but it’s received serious consideration by Republican-appointed judges.

 Read more at Politico

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