House Dem: Ruling striking mandate won’t be a ‘show-stopper’ for health law

A leading House Democrat said Tuesday that if the Supreme Court strikes down the individual mandate, it will not be "a show-stopper" for the healthcare law.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), the chief deputy whip for House Democrats, predicted during an interview on The Bill Press Show that the entire law would be upheld but said her party "would absolutely move forward" with the remaining reforms even if the mandate is defeated.

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"There are other ways to skin the cat — to make sure that people do join and get insurance," she added. "So I don't think [a ruling against the mandate] would be a complete show-stopper." 

Her statement comes as both parties position themselves ahead of the landmark decision, which is expected in the next two weeks.

Some court watchers anticipate that the justices will strike the individual mandate to purchase health insurance while upholding other provisions in the law.

In her interview, Schakowsky acknowledged that striking the mandate while retaining the rest of the law would increase costs for the healthcare reforms. She pointed to Medicare, where she said delaying enrollment after individuals become eligible could mean higher costs once they joined the program.  

The individual mandate is designed to spread risk in private health insurance markets and had been embraced by Republicans for two decades before the Affordable Care Act passed.

It now forms the basis for much of the objection to the healthcare law, with conservatives arguing that the government cannot force consumers to buy health insurance. 

Nearly ever major Democrat has predicted that the entire law will pass muster with the Supreme Court, according to a review by The Hill. 

House Minority Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), one of the law's authors, predicts almost weekly that President Obama's legislative "crown jewel" will be upheld 6-3. 

"It's ironclad," Pelosi said at a press conference on May 31. "Nobody was frivolous with the Constitution and the health of the American people in writing the bill. That's where my confidence springs from: the merit of the bill and the nature of the Constitution." 

Republicans, meanwhile, have declined to make predictions when asked how the court will rule. 

Schakowsky said Tuesday that a positive decision on healthcare reform may come with a "bad decision" on Arizona's controversial immigration law, which will also see a decision by the end of the court's current term.

She added that a decision against the Affordable Care Act would amount to "an historic deviation" by the court. 

"I certainly don't know the numbers or wouldn't predict the numbers, but I do think the fundamental bill will be upheld," she said. 

— Bob Cusack contributed