LIVE: Activists Speak Out on Health Care as Supreme Court Takes Up ACA

Date: 2020-11-10 15:59:21

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(Nov. 10) Watch live as health care advocates speak out in favor of the Affordable Care Act outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, November 10, 2020.

The U.S. Supreme Court began hearing the latest Republican bid to kill the Affordable Care Act, kicking off an 80-minute argument over the fate of a landmark law that provides health-insurance to 20 million people.

Early questioning centered on contentions that opponents lack the legal right to challenge the provision at the center of the case: the law’s requirement that they acquire insurance. Defenders of the law say opponents aren’t injured because they don’t have to pay a penalty if they lack insurance.

“Is someone who does not follow the mandate and purchase insurance violating the law?” Chief Justice John Roberts asked.

President Donald Trump’s administration is joining Republican-led states in challenging a law the GOP has been trying to wipe out since it was enacted in 2010. The House and a group of Democratic-controlled states are defending the measure, also known as Obamacare.

Early comments don’t always provide a clear view of the justices’ inclinations because they are questioning only one side in the case. A group of Democratic-led states and the House are arguing in defense of the law during the first 40 minutes, followed by Republican-led states and the Trump administration arguing against the law.

With health care accounting for a sixth of the U.S. economy, the stakes are massive. The challenge jeopardizes the health care of more than 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, including those who have had Covid-19, according to estimates from the liberal Center for American Progress.

Advocates for patients, doctors, hospitals and insurance companies are urging the court to uphold the law, warning of chaos should the measure be invalidated in the midst of a pandemic. A ruling is likely by June.

Democrat Joe Biden’s defeat of Trump in the presidential race means Congress could override any ruling invalidating the law. But its willingness to do so could depend on two Jan. 5 Georgia runoffs that will determine whether Democrats take the control of the Senate. After last week’s election the Senate stands at 48-48, with Republicans leading as-yet uncalled races in North Carolina and Alaska.

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