The Biden administration has officially submitted their change of stance towards the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010, also known as Obamacare, to the Supreme Court.
After Republican attempts to topple the act, with the argument that it is unconstitutional, Biden’s Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler, has submitted a letter affirming that the Biden administration feels that the ACA is constitutional contrary to the stance of the former government.
Obamacare, the Obama administration’s signature act
Current President Joe Biden served in the Obama administration as Vice President. The recent letter and statement from the Biden administration are not unexpected, as Biden has supported the ACA since its emergence and is expected to increase its coverage.
The Republicans challenged the ACA in the Supreme Court back in 2012 and 2015 but failed to affect it. In 2017, the Republicans successfully repealed the tax penalty for not having health insurance, based on its lack of adherence to the constitution.
The Republicans then tried to argue that the provision was “inseverable” and that if it was repealed, the entire ACA should be abolished. In November 2020, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments from Republicans attempting to prove that the entire ACA was unconstitutional.
“The purpose of this letter is to notify the Court that the United States no longer adheres to the conclusions in the previously filed brief of the federal respondents,” Kneedler wrote to the Supreme Court. “Rather than imposing a new burden on covered individuals, the 2017 amendment preserved the choice between lawful options and simply eliminated any financial or negative legal consequence from choosing not to enroll in health coverage.”
His letter further stated that even if the specific provision were found to be unconstitutional, then it would indeed be severable from the rest of the act.
Contrary to the claim of the former Republican Governor Kneedler wrote, “It is also now the position of the United States that, if this Court nevertheless concludes that Section 5000A(a) is unconstitutional, that provision is severable from the remainder of the ACA. The severability inquiry typically requires asking ‘whether Congress would have wanted the rest of [a statute] to stand, had it known that’ one or more particular provisions of the statute would be held invalid.”
This move from the Biden administration is thought to have little impact on the outcome of the case that will be decided sometime before June.
It is doubtful that the ACA will be completely abolished as Republicans hope. If it were, according to a study by the Urban Institute, it would leave 21.1 million people uninsured, which would be a 69 percent increase nationally.