Federal Appeals Court Appears Skeptical of Obamacare; Law's Future in Doubt

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A federal appeals court panel grilled Democratic attorneys general on Tuesday about whether Obamacare violates the U.S. Constitution, as it weighs whether to uphold a Texas judge's ruling striking down the landmark health care reform law.

"If the Trump administration position prevails and the entire Affordable Care Act is struck down, there will be catastrophic implications", said committee Chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland. The Texas v. United States case stems from the Republican's 2017 tax cut bill.

Judge Jennifer Elrod, appointed by President George W. Bush, asked if lawmakers meant to knock down the law when they ended the penalty for not having coverage as part of the 2017 tax overhaul.

"He's in court right now, trying to take people's private health insurance away".

Depending on what happens at the appeals court level, the health law could be back in front of the Supreme Court - which has upheld the health law on other grounds in 2012 and 2015 - and land there in the middle of next year's presidential campaign.

"Congress can fix this", he said at one point.

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She seemed to grimace as she clutched her arms, apparently in an effort to hide the shakes. She is due to step down from her post when her term ends in 2021.

"Today's arguments seem to have gone very, very well", he said.

Reed O'Connor took the Republicans' side and dominated everything of the ACA unconstitutional within the absence of the tax penalty. And he said Supreme Court precedent dictates that the courts should strive to uphold as numerous law's provisions as possible. "If there's one thing that I think there is a consensus on in the health care field in Congress it's the pre-existing conditions should be covered". "They're going to be more likely to die and more likely to get sick if they lose their insurance". The intervening states also argue that more than 20 million people will lose healthcare coverage gained through the Medicaid expansion and Marketplace individual policies if the ACA is nullified, and that important safeguards, such as a ban against pre-existing conditions, would be eliminated. Romano said he only paid about $250 a month in health care insurance premiums before the ACA was implemented.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to eventually consider the matter. But Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court's four liberal members to hold the mandate was a valid exercise of Congress's tax power. Texas and other Republican-led states, backed by the Trump administration, contend that when Congress zeroed out the tax penalty in 2017 for people who failed to obtain insurance, it eviscerated its constitutional grounds. He indicated the panel may hesitate to eradicate the entire law.

"Another year of stable enrollment", Seema Verma, who oversees the marketplaces as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, crowed in March after the agency released a report showing 11.4 million people signed up for coverage on the marketplaces for 2019.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals appeared sympathetic Tuesday to Republican efforts to overturn Obamacare. King was nominated to the appeals court by President Jimmy Carter in 1979. Appellate Judge Jennifer Elrod, a George W. Bush appointee, pointed out on Tuesday that lawmakers deliberately removed the penalty because they knew it would cause the law to fall. Engelhardt was nominated by Trump, a Republican, last year. "In addition to being harmful to patients' health, the lack of coverage adds unnecessary expense to our nation's health care system and deprives patients with an equitable opportunity for a healthy, productive life".

A coalition of Democratic state attorneys general led by California's Xavier Becerra stepped up to defend the law. It would require health insurance companies in North Dakota to cover people with pre-existing conditions, but Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread says language on the amendment was unworkable.