Following President Trump’s inauguration in January of 2017, Republicans have vowed to repeal and replace Obamacare. On his first day in office, President Trump signed an executive order that would “ease the burden of Obamacare” as they hoped to phase it out and replace the act altogether. It was the start of a strenuous process that would unravel without an ideal exit strategy.
After years of deliberation, it has made its way to the highest court in the nation. The Supreme Court started oral arguments regarding Obamacare on Tuesday with the newly appointed conservative majority. With this new majority in place, the argument’s direction is assumed to strictly adhere to the vast majority of the Republican party’s beliefs. However, the decision to repeal the Affordable Care Act is swaying in the opposite direction as it could not have come up at a more strenuous time.
Given the coronavirus’ universal turmoil and the most recent presidential election, the country is on its toes. It is argued that roughly 20 million Americans would lose health insurance in the middle of a global pandemic if the ACA is not upheld, making it one of the most consequential statutes to be argued this year.
The final decision on the case is not expected to be decided until the end of the year. This pushes Republicans to act fast if they want to eliminate the statute. This case was brought to the Supreme Court by a group of Republican attorney general’s in 18 states that want to strike it down in its entirety. This group argues against the court, saying, “If the tax is gone, the logic for keeping the law is gone as well.” The supreme court must now decide if they should agree with this logic or dismiss it.
Chief Justice Roberts argued the court’s doctrine of severability. It calls for the court to preserve the rest of the law when possible, even if a provision is struck down. This puts in to question the need to strike down the law in its entirety even if the individual mandate is ruled to be unconstitutional. “It’s hard for you to argue that Congress intended the entire act to fall if the mandate were struck down when the same Congress that lowered the penalty to zero did not even try to repeal the rest of the act,” said Roberts. He is referring to the Congress ruling in 2019 that called for terminating the financial penalties put in place for those who fail to comply with the mandate in the Affordable Care Act but left the rest of the law in place.
Following Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Kavanaugh says, “I tend to agree with you on this very straightforward case for severability under our precedents, meaning that we would excise the mandate and leave the rest of the act in place reading our severability precedents,” Justices Roberts and Kavanaugh seem to be wary of striking down the statute as they argue in favor of keeping most of the law.