The Trump administration is seeking to put an end to the Affordable Care Act, the health care law created under the Obama administration that enabled millions of Americans to get insurance protection.
In a filing with the Supreme Court on Thursday, the Trump administration asked to have Obamacare invalidated on the grounds that Congress eliminated the individual tax penalty for failing to purchase medical insurance.
Solicitor General Noel Francisco said in a legal brief that once the individual coverage mandate and two other Obamacare provisions are invalidated, "the remainder of the ACA should not be allowed to remain in effect."
"Nothing the 2017 Congress did demonstrates it would have intended the rest of the ACA to continue to operate in the absence of these three integral provisions,” Francisco said. “The entire ACA thus must fall with the individual mandate, though the scope of relief entered in this case should be limited to provisions shown to injure the plaintiffs."
Millions would lose coverage
Earlier on Thursday, likely Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden expressed dismay at Trump’s continued support for eliminating Obamacare.
"Today, his Administration is filing a brief with the Supreme Court to rip health care coverage away from 23 million Americans — including 224,000 Wisconsinites," Biden said. "Every American deserves the peace of mind that comes (with) access to affordable, high-quality health care."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said eliminating the ACA in the middle of a pandemic would be particularly cruel.
"President Trump and the Republicans' campaign to rip away the protections and benefits of the Affordable Care Act in the middle of the coronavirus crisis is an act of unfathomable cruelty,” Pelosi said in a statement.
“If President Trump gets his way, 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions will lose the ACA’s lifesaving protections and 23 million Americans will lose their health coverage entirely,” she added. “There is no legal justification and no moral excuse for the Trump Administration’s disastrous efforts to take away Americans’ health care.”
States defending ACA
California and 19 other Democrat-led states are pushing for the law to remain.
"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," said California attorney general Xavier Becerra who is leading the defense. "Now is not the time to rip away our best tool to address very real and very deadly health disparities in our communities."
Experts say wiping out the ACA would have a dramatic impact on the health care coverage in the U.S. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, an estimated 52 million Americans have preexisting health conditions that insurers could have denied coverage to under rules in place before the ACA was instated in most states.
Supreme Court justices will hear arguments in the case as soon as October.