The Supreme Court announced Monday that they would hear a challenge to Obamacare in October, putting the nation’s healthcare program in the greatest jeopardy of its existence. The challenge will likely be ruled on by the high court in the summer of 2021.
This takes Obamacare’s future largely off the table for the 2020 election season, which may be for the best if you’re President Donald Trump. After that debacle in 2017, where the Republicans fumbled the repeal-and-replace ball, we don’t particularly need healthcare becoming a prime-time topic this year.
From NBC News:
A federal appeals court ruled in December that the individual mandate in Obamacare, officially known as the Affordable Care Act, is unconstitutional. But it sent the case back to the trial judge for another look at whether the entire law is invalid or some parts can survive.
The House of Representatives, controlled by Democrats, and a group of blue states urged the Supreme Court in January to take the case and issue a decision promptly, in its current term, instead of leaving the fate of the law in limbo.
“That uncertainty threatens adverse consequences for our nation’s health care system, including for patients, doctors, insurers, and state and local governments,” they told the court.
But the justices rejected the invitation for expedited scheduling, agreeing instead to follow the normal rules.
Since the law was passed, opponents have attacked the individual mandate, a central feature, which requires all Americans to buy insurance or pay a penalty on their income tax. The Supreme Court upheld Obamacare in 2012, ruling that it was a legitimate exercise of Congress’ taxing authority.
The problem, actually, arises from what Republicans did as a half-measure against the ACA in 2017.
Having failed to pass repeal-and-replace, Congress zeroed out the individual mandate. But with the mandate set to zero, Texas and several other states filed suit, saying that without the mandate, the law itself could no longer pass muster as constitutional under the taxing power of the federal government. This theory was upheld by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and it will form the basis of the case before the Supreme Court.
The legal collapse of Obamacare would force Republicans to actually replace the system with something new…assuming Trump wins in 2020 and the GOP takes back the House. If things go another way, the demise of Obamacare could wind up giving Democrats the opening they need to introduce Medicare-for-All.