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Health insurers urge Supreme Court to take ObamaCare case, uphold health law

Health insurers urge Supreme Court to take ObamaCare case, uphold health law
© Greg Nash

The health insurance lobby America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) on Wednesday filed a brief urging the Supreme Court to take up a case challenging ObamaCare and to rule to uphold the health law. 

The health insurers are siding with a group of Democratic-led states that have asked the high court to take up the GOP-led case challenging the Affordable Care Act (ACA) now. In contrast, the Trump administration and a group of Republican-led states have called for letting further lower-court proceedings play out first, which would have the effect of delaying Supreme Court consideration until after the 2020 elections. 

The health insurers warned that allowing the case to linger in the lower courts would cause damaging uncertainty as the prospect of the sweeping health care law being struck down hung over their heads. 

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Prolonging the case “casts a long shadow of uncertainty over ACA-based investments and denies health insurance providers, states, individuals, and other stakeholders of much needed clarity,” AHIP writes in its brief. “Invalidation of the ACA would wreak havoc on the health care system.”

The Trump administration and the GOP-led states argue that ObamaCare’s mandate to have coverage is unconstitutional and that therefore the entirety of the rest of the law should be struck down too. 

Legal experts in both parties have expressed deep skepticism of this argument, noting that Congress’s intent in 2017 when it repealed the financial penalty for violating the mandate was clearly to repeal only that provision and leave the rest of the law standing. 

The health insurers said that ObamaCare markets have “remained stable” in 2020 even without the mandate, arguing that shows the mandate is not essential to the rest of the law. 

The brief from health insurers is another sign that even as Democratic presidential candidates attack the industry over its opposition to "Medicare for All," health insurers have become increasingly vocal in supporting the current system, opposing undoing ObamaCare after spending years adapting to it.

“Eliminating the vital preexisting-condition protections would upend the individual markets and throw individuals and health insurance providers back to an obsolete system that cannot be revived without serious disruption to American lives and the nation’s economy,” AHIP stated.