Trump administration asks Supreme Court to strike down Obamacare
In the midst of a global pandemic with the presidential election just months away, the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to invalidate the Affordable Care Act, the landmark health care law that enabled millions of Americans to get insurance coverage and that remains in effect despite the pending legal challenge.
In a late-night filing, Solicitor General Noel Francisco said that once the law’s individual coverage mandate and two key provisions are invalidated, “the remainder of the ACA should not be allowed to remain in effect.”
The justices will hear arguments in the case sometime next term, although it is unclear if they will occur before the November election.
The dispute ensures another major shift in the political landscape during the election season on an issue that has dominated American politics for the last decade. It will be the third time the court has heard a significant challenge to the law.
The case pits a coalition of Democratic attorneys general led by California and the House of Representatives, which are defending the law, against the Trump administration and a group of red state attorneys general led by Texas.
Mr Biden, who wants to rally the public behind an expanded Affordable Care Act, said some coronavirus survivors could lose their comprehensive healthcare coverage if the act was overturned.
“They would live their lives caught in a vice between Donald Trump’s twin legacies: his failure to protect the American people from the coronavirus, and his heartless crusade to take healthcare protections away from American families,” Mr Biden said.
In a statement on Friday, White House spokesman Judd Deere said Obamacare was “an unlawful failure”.
“It limits choice, forces Americans to purchase unaffordable plans, and restricts patients with high-risk preexisting conditions from accessing the doctors and hospitals they need.”
The US has been badly hit by the pandemic, recording 2.4m confirmed coronavirus infections and 122,370 deaths – more than any other country.
But the true number of infections is likely to be 10 times higher than the reported figure , according to the latest estimate by health officials.
The Supreme Court is unlikely to hear the case before voters go to the polls in November, US media report.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who is leading a coalition of states battling to protect the ACA, said Thursday night that as more Americans die of covid-19, “this fight comes at the most crucial time.”
“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,” Becerra said in a statement. “Now is not the time to rip away our best tool to address very real and very deadly health disparities in our communities.”