WASHINGTON, D.C. — The future of the Affordable Care Act [ACA] is now in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court after oral arguments were made Tuesday regarding a constitutional challenge to the 10-year-old law.
The ACA has survived two other constitutional challenges but, since then, three new justices have joined the court, all appointed by President Donald Trump.
“Tens of millions of Americans rely on it for health insurance,” said Donald Verrilli Jr, former Solicitor General in the Obama administration.
Verrilli defended the ACA and urged the high court to keep the law in place.
“To assume that Congress put all of that at risk when it amended the law in 2017 is to attribute to Congress a recklessness,” Verrilli said.
Republicans argued that because Congress zeroed out the penalty for failing to get health insurance in 2017, it can no longer be justified as a tax and the whole law should be thrown out.
“The mandate as it exists today is unconstitutional,” said Kyle Hawkins, Solicitor General of Texas, who argued against keeping the ACA.
Chief Justice John Roberts questioned whether repealing the ACA should even be up to the high court.
“That’s not our job,” Roberts said.
“I would respectfully submit that it is this court’s job to follow the text of the law as written,” Hawkins responded.
A lot of attention was on the newest justice, Amy Coney Barrett.
“What should we make of the fact that Congress didn’t repeal the provision?” Barrett asked during the oral arguments.
Democrats had argued that Barrett’s confirmation was rushed by Republicans last month in order to get her on the bench in time to hear this case. Barrett had been critical of the ACA in 2017 but said she would keep an open mind during her confirmation hearings.
The Supreme Court is not expected to hand down a decision in the case until the summer.
Cox Media Group