As much as Donald Trump has managed to install three conservative justices on the Supreme Court and solidify an overwhelming 6-3 majority, the high court may not be his full ally, at least in one of the efforts of the president and the Republican Party: overturn the accessible care law, the health reform popularly known as ‘Obamacare’. This Tuesday, in a two-hour hearing in a case brought by Republicans against that rule, the conservative president of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, and Brett Kavanaugh, one of the judges appointed by Trump, have indicated that they will ally with the magistrates progressives to let her survive.
The challenge to ‘Obamacare’ has been a constant among Republicans since it was passed in 2010. Trump campaigned in 2016 promising, as the party had been doing for years, to repeal and replace it, although without offering a concrete plan on what to replace it with. In 2017 they already managed in Congress to strip her of the “individual mandate” that imposed a fine on anyone who was not insured. And they have not given up in their efforts to dismantle it, although the Vacuum of alternatives threatens to endanger the health of millions and plunging into chaos a sector that represents one sixth of the US economy.
In the middle of a pandemic
The Republican commitment has been maintained even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, when infections have risen 8.6% in the last week and 118,000 new cases were detected on Monday alone. And it comes despite the fact that now knock down ‘Obamacare’ could leave 20 million more people without insurance in the United States, raising the current number of uninsured by 70%. Among those who would lose it are 12 million low-income people, who entered public coverage when “Obamacare” expanded the Medicaid program.
Breaking down the complex law would, however, have many more consequences. ‘Obamacare’ prevented insurers, for example, from rejecting or charging more to those who had previous medical problems, but without the law, policies could be denied or made more expensive. And among those affected (up to 135 million people according to calculations by the Center for American Progress) would be those who have passed the covid-19, more than 10 million Americans.
Under the guillotine would also be from free colonoscopies and birth control to reduced and controlled prices of medicines for the elderly or the term that has been given up to 26 years to stay in parental insurance.
Third case in the Supreme
The Supreme Court, thanks to Roberts’ vote with the progressives, has already maintained in two previous cases the constitutionality and validity of ‘Obamacare’, in one of them identifying the individual mandate as a tax. And this Tuesday he listened to the arguments about another case that was born from the moment in which the Republicans managed to eliminate that mandate in practice. They did it in Trump’s tax reform, in which they reduced the fine to zero dollars that was imposed on those who did not make sure.
A total of 18 attorneys general from Republican-governed states supported by attorneys for the Trump Administration (where the Justice Department has stopped defending a national law) argued from that moment on that now that the mandate no longer carries a fine cannot be treated as a tax. They defend that for this reason it has ceased to be constitutional and suggest that if that part of ‘Obamacare’ is so, so is the whole law.
In the presentation of arguments this Tuesday, which as is the norm for the pandemic, are made virtually, Roberts and Kavanaugh have shown skepticism about several of the arguments raised by the Republicans. And even though the Supreme Court’s decision is not expected until spring 2021, their interventions suggest that they will reject the idea that annulling a part of the law forces the annulment of all of it.
This Tuesday’s session has focused much of the country’s attention. It is the first major case in which Amy Coney Barrett, the conservative magistrate selected by Trump, who in the past has shown her rejection of ‘Obamacare’.
President-elect Joe Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris have also dedicated an appearance to the press in defense of “Obamacare,” who in their program they have proposed expanding Obama’s reform by adding a public insurance initiative. Biden has denounced the case of the Republicans as one of “the ideologues of the extreme right”, has recalled the strong percentages of support that ‘Obamacare’ has among US citizens and has ensured that access to health “does not need to be a partisan issue, it’s a human issue. ” Harris, for his part, has recalled horrors prior to ‘Obamacare’ (such as that pregnancy was considered a medical problem or that policies were more expensive for women just for the fact of being so) and has assured that repealing the law “would lead us towards behind”.
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