Trump Again Targets Obamacare, Asks SCOTUS To Strike It Down
The Department of Justice is asking the Supreme Court to strike down the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, as unconstitutional after Congress effectively cut out the individual mandate.
The DOJ filed a brief with the Supreme Court on Thursday, arguing that since Congress negated the penalty for not having health insurance, the law can no longer be justified under the legislature’s power to tax. In 2017, Congress passed a Republican-led tax bill that gutted the ACA’s individual mandate, reducing it to 0% of a person’s income. The new rule took effect last year.
“The entire ACA thus must fall with the individual mandate,” Solicitor General Noel Francisco wrote in the DOJ brief, according to The Wall Street Journal. “The individual mandate is no longer a valid exercise of Congress’s legislative authority in light of Congress’s elimination of the penalty for noncompliance.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement slamming the Trump administration’s move, highlighting the political danger of President Trump attacking Obamacare amid a pandemic and months before he is up for reelection.
“President Trump and the Republicans’ campaign to rip away the protections and benefits of the Affordable Care Act in the middle of the coronavirus crisis is an act of unfathomable cruelty,” Pelosi said on Thursday. “If President Trump gets his way, 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions will lose the ACA’s lifesaving protections and 23 million Americans will lose their health coverage entirely. There is no legal justification and no moral excuse for the Trump Administration’s disastrous efforts to take away Americans’ health care.”
Former President Obama with a Democratic-controlled Congress passed his signature piece of legislation in 2010. The GOP tried and failed to repeal and replace Obamacare in 2017, but lawmakers attached a provision to a tax cut bill later in the year that effectively stripped the ACA of the mandate.
A group of 20 GOP state officials sued the federal government in February 2018 for the courts to strike down the law as unconstitutional. Democratic officials in 17 other states responded in a court filing arguing to keep the law in place. The Trump administration has sided with the plaintiffs against itself. A federal court in Texas sided with the GOP, and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, one of the Democratic officials fighting to keep the ACA, issued a statement Thursday responding to the Justice Department’s filing.
“Now is not the time to rip away our best tool to address very real and very deadly health disparities in our communities,” Becerra said, according to The New York Times. “This fight comes at the most crucial time. The death toll from the coronavirus today is greater than the death toll of the Vietnam War.”