By Aaron Miller-
The Trump administration has asked the U.S supreme court to abrogate the Obamacare law that added millions to the healthcare safety net but has been at the centre of political controversy.
The government advocate, Noel Francisco, argued in a filing late on Thursday that the Affordable Care Act (ACA), one of Barack Obama’s signature achievements – in office, became invalid after the previous Republican-led Congress axed parts of it.
“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,” said Francisco, who leads the justice department’s office of the solicitor general.
“No further analysis is necessary; once the individual mandate and the guaranteed-issue and community-rating provisions are invalidated, the remainder of the ACA cannot survive.”
The legal push will be an important political battleground in the presidential election, where Trump is seeking a second term against the challenge of the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, in a November vote.
“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,” said the Democratic House of Representatives Speaker, Nancy Pelosi.
“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. There is no legal justification and no moral excuse for the Trump Administration’s disastrous efforts to take away Americans’ health care.”
The U.S has been worst-hit by Covid-19, with more than 124,000 deaths and 2.4 million infections. The ACA has prohibited health insurers from denying coverage to Americans with pre-existing health conditions.
“It’s cruel, it’s heartless, it’s callous,” Biden said in a campaign speech on Thursday of the move to gut Obamacare.
President Trump has been a long time critic of healthcare costs and coverage under Obamacare and has been promising to replace it since his 2016 campaign.
Republicans consider the law as excessive government intrusion into the healthcare market. They argue that the system is broken anyway and that they will help more people gain coverage by repealing the law while simultaneously minimising disruptions to those who depend on it.
“Obamacare has been an unlawful failure and further illustrates the need to focus on patient care,” the White House spokesman in an email after the filing
“The American people deserve for Congress to work on a bipartisan basis with the president to provide quality, affordable care.”
The Trump administration’s filing was made in support of a challenge to the ACA by a coalition of Republican governors.
The brief filed late on Thursday would potentially cost an estimated 20 million Americans their insurance coverage, and render null and void current protections for pre-existing conditions.
The Trump administration’s brief comes in the wake of the U.S recording over 120,000 deaths from COVID-19, with nearly 2.5 million confirmed cases. On Wednesday, the nation hit a new record for the highest daily total of new infections reported with more than 45,500.
U.S infection rates have risen since many major cities eased their lockdown, leaving many Americans worried that they may be adversely affected by such a ruling.
Some critics believe President Trump is simply bent on undoing much of the infrastructure Barack Obama established during his tenure, and replacing them with his own in order to both set his own legacy and undermine the former president of whom Trump is no fan.
If the filing is successful, it will boost Trump’s popularity among his supporters and could even increase his election chances in the 2020 elections. Other factors influencing the U.S electorate could include perception of his handling of the pandemic, ant the state of the economy at the time of the election campaigns.
The American public and journalists wait for the ruling with baited breath.