US Appeals Court Hears Arguments for and Against Obamacare
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org - Home - Stephen Lendman)
Since adoption of the so-called (increasingly unaffordable) Affordable Care Act (ACA) in March 2010, known as Obamacare, the law continues to face constitutional challenges to its legitimacy.
None succeeded in overturning the legislation. So far, 28 states challenged it jointly or in individual lawsuits to overturn it on constitutional grounds.
Some states base their challenge on claiming the measure violates the 10th Amendment, affirming that powers not constitutionally granted to the federal government are reserved to the states or the people.
Last December, federal Northern District of Texas Judge Reed O'Connor ruled Obamacare unconstitutional over its individual mandate — requiring all Americans buy health insurance, negating their right to opt out.
The ruling left the law in limbo, subject to appeal, heading for likely eventual Supreme Court resolution.
ACA is woefully inadequate, leaving dysfunctional US healthcare unchanged. The scheme benefits insurers, drug companies, and large hospital chains at the expense of universal affordable coverage — everyone in, no one left out, what healthcare everywhere should be all about.
If the Supreme Court rules against Obamacare on constitutional or other grounds, healthcare for millions enrolled in the program will be hugely disrupted.
In June 2012, the Supremes upheld Obamacare's individual mandate by a 5 – 4 ruling, Chief Justice Roberts voting with the majority.
While debate focused on congressional power under the Constitution's Commerce Clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3): "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Native American Tribes, majority justices upheld Obamacare as an exercise of US taxing power.
Their ruling was pro-business, serving the interests of healthcare giants. Industry lawyers and lobbyists drafted ACA to assure its provisions benefitted their clients – what's behind virtually all US legislation, benefitting privileged interests at the expense of the general welfare.
Former CIGNA vice president Wendell Potter said Obamacare shifts costs to consumers, offers inadequate or unaffordable access, forces Americans to pay higher deductibles for less coverage, putting profits ahead of a fundamental human right.
On July 9, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit heard arguments for and against Texas v. US, ruling against Obamacare.
Last December's GOP tax cut for the rich eliminated the individual mandate, effective January 1, 2019. The employer mandate to provide healthcare coverage remained in force for companies with 50 or more full-time workers.
According to Texas Judge Reed O'Connor, this action "compels the conclusion" that the individual mandate ceases to be a constitutional exercise of congressional taxing authority.
Because Obama and congressional supporters called this provision essential to the measure, Judge O'Connor said the law lacks validity without it.
That's for higher courts to decide — first at the appeals level, likely the Supremes in 2020 whatever way the Fifth Circuit court rules on this major issue, affecting millions of Americans covered by ACA.
What all Americans need is universal coverage, putting healthcare above corporate profits once and for all.
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