The Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare, is facing another challenge in front of the Supreme Court as Republican-led states seek to overturn the law on the constitutionality of the individual mandate.
Former Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama Valerie Jarrett told Yahoo Finance Live that she “sincerely hopes” they uphold the law because of the roughly 20 million Americans who will lose their health insurance, and the consequences of that will be “devastating.”
“I think about the 20 million Americans who will lose their insurance who are currently insured through the exchanges. The 100 million Americans who have pre-existing conditions, and that number has ticked up as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The young people who get to stay on their parents' plans until they're 26. The women who get preventive care. The many, many benefits the Affordable Care Act has and how devastating that would be to so many American families if it’s thrown out.” said Jarrett. “Without thinking of those families, without considering what that would mean to lose that important safety net, it's just reprehensible. It's cruel. And I think the Republicans have to be held accountable for that.”
Jarrett warns that striking down Obamacare in the middle of the pandemic will have extreme consequences, especially since the Republicans have not laid out a plan that would replace the ACA.
“It's just so profoundly troubling that 10 years after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, we continue to hear the Republicans say repeal it and replace it, but not once have they ever articulated what they would replace it with,” said Jarrett.
Based on the Supreme Court oral arguments over the ACA on Tuesday, it seems like Obamacare may survive. Chief Justice John Roberts and conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh both questioned the need to strike down the law in its entirety, even if the individual mandate is ruled unconstitutional.
“It’s hard for you to argue that Congress intended the entire act to fall if the mandate were struck down when the same Congress that lowered the penalty to zero did not even try to repeal the rest of the act,” said Roberts. In 2019, Congress ruled to eliminate financial penalties for those who failed to comply with the mandate but left the rest of the law in place.
The final decision on the case brought forward by Republican attorneys general in 18 states isn’t expected until next year. Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden has promised to expand the law when he takes office in January.
Seana Smith anchors Yahoo Finance’s 3-5p ET program. Follow her on Twitter @SeanaNSmith