A three-judge panel of the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans was considering a lower court decision that found the bitterly contested Obamacare law-formally known as the Affordable Care Act-to be unconstitutional.
The three judges on the 5th Circuit panel now must decide whether that change invalidates the whole law.
Bush appointee, asked how the plaintiff states how they would argue the mandate could not be considered separately from other provisions in the far-reaching healthcare law, such as restaurant calorie guidelines. In December, Judge Reed O'Connor of the Federal District Court in Fort Worth said it could not and declared that the entire law must fall. If it succeeds, the lives of families like Rafe's would be thrown into chaos as insurance companies are given license to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, and countless families lose their insurance or Medicaid coverage.
A California-led coalition of 16 states intervened to defend the ACA. The judges seemed to wrestle with the question at the crux of the ongoing case-can the individual mandate be excised from the law? Engelhardt also suggested Congress, not the courts, should choose which parts of the law should be salvaged.
"Congress can fix this", said Judge Kurt Engelhardt, an appointee of President Donald Trump.
It was unclear when the panel would rule.
The case could end up in the Supreme Court, likely in the midst of the 2020 Presidential Election. Attorneys for the blue states argued that if Congress had wanted to get rid of the rest of the law then it would have done so when passing tax reform in 2017.
Thanks to the Trump administration's inept handling of the health care policy, a radical swing in the make up of the Supreme Court and the GOP's limitless desire to rollback social policies, Collins could find herself in a storm of regressive efforts to take our country back to the 1950s.
"Remember that the kinds of provisions here that would be struck down if there's no severability are, for example, the provision about when you can be denied or charged more insurance for preexisting conditions", Letter said.
The judges focused on whether Obamacare lost its legal justification after Trump in 2017 signed a law that eliminated a tax penalty used to enforce the law's mandate that all Americans buy health insurance.
Republicans have repeatedly tried to repeal Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act (ACA), since its 2010 passage, and while the Justice Department would normally defend a federal law, the Trump administration has declined to defend its constitutionality against a challenge by 18 Republican-led states. The individual order was maintained as a sacred exercise of Congress' saddling power by a five part greater part of the U.S. Preeminent Court in NFIB v. Sebelius in 2012. But now its Justice Department is agreeing with Texas that the entire law should be struck down because, they insist, the law's many provisions are intertwined. He argued that Roberts' opinion said people had a choice whether to buy insurance or face a tax penalty.
The government said in March that a total of 11.4 million people signed up during open enrollment season, a dip of about 300,000 from previous year.
Texas' odds of total vindication remain in question after almost two hours of questions before the three judges.
A victory for plaintiffs assures that health care will once again be front and center on the campaign trail as Trump seeks reelection next year.
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), holding a picture of head-injury victim Emilie Saltzman, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) lead fellow congressional Democrats for remarks on health care coverage of pre-existing conditions, on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. July 9, 2019.