President Donald Trump’s administration is appealing to the Supreme Court on the Affordable Care Act, asking justices to strike down the healthcare regulations.
Two federal courts have ruled that the act’s individual mandate, which required people who did not have health insurance to pay a fine, violated the U.S. Constitution. The mandate, the Trump administration is arguing, is not severable from the rest of the act, also known as the ACA, or Obamacare.
“The individual mandate cannot be severed from the remainder of the ACA,” Solicitor General Noel Francisco wrote in a new court filing (pdf). “The entire ACA thus must fall with the individual mandate.”
The Department of Justice filed the legal brief in support of states that are seeking to have Obamacare entirely struck down.
The states include Texas, Florida, Kansas, South Dakota, and West Virginia.
California, Hawaii, Minnesota, and other states are seeking to have the act upheld.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a Democrat, said in a statement that the ACA “has been life-changing and now through this pandemic, we can all see the value in having greater access to quality healthcare at affordable prices.”
“Now is not the time to rip away our best tool to address very real and very deadly health disparities in our communities,” he added.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the Trump administration’s efforts have no legal justification.
“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,” she said in a statement.
Pelosi and House Democrats unveiled legislation this week to expand the act. A vote on the package is scheduled for Monday.
Trump told reporters at the White House last month that “Obamacare is a disaster, but we’ve run it very well.
“And we’ve made it barely acceptable. It was a disaster under President Obama, and it’s very bad healthcare. What we want to do is terminate it and give great healthcare. And we’ll have great healthcare, including preexisting conditions—100 percent preexisting conditions,” he added.
“We’re going to replace Obamacare with great healthcare at a lesser price, and preexisting conditions will be included and you won’t have the individual mandate—which was expensive and terrible and very unfair to everybody, and it was very unpopular,” he said.
Trump told a town hall in March that Republicans would need to regain a majority in the House of Representatives to pass a replacement for Obamacare. The replacement wasn’t ready at that time, according to the president.
Speaking during a campaign stop on Thursday, Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, called Trump’s move to invalidate Obamacare “cruel” and “heartless.”
“And it’s all because, in my view, he can’t abide the thought of letting stand on one of President Obama’s greatest achievements, the Affordable Care Act,” Biden said, according to ABC News.
White House spokesman Judd Deere told news outlets in a statement that the COVID-19 pandemic “does not change what Americans know: Obamacare has been an unlawful failure and further illustrates the need to focus on patient care.”
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in the case in the fall.