Two years ago, President Obama pushed legislation through the U.S. Senate that has been very controversial. Known as, the “Affordable Care Act” (ACA), or the more common name of “Obamacare,” this legislation reformed our nation’s healthcare system by providing health insurance to millions of Americans who were previously uninsured. The Supreme Court of the United States, in order to verify its constitutional validity and, perhaps, repeal parts of the law or even the legislation in its entirety, is now reviewing the Affordable Care Act. Many Republican’s are hoping that the healthcare law will be rescinded due to their claim that the government mandate, which requires all Americans to purchase health insurance is unconstitutional. Prior to the ACA, President Obama tried to negotiate reconciliation between the competing healthcare bills that were passed in the House and the Senate. This suggested reconciliation reached an impasse when the Democrats lost the supermajority in the Senate, as a result of Scott Brown (R-MA) winning the late Ted Kennedy’s (D-MA) seat. House Democrats then re-fit their bill as a new budget reconciliation bill, which is a form of legislation that requires only a simple majority and not a supermajority of 60 votes in the Senate to be approved. Since the passage of the ACA by circumventing Republicans in the Senate, the common GOP view of the law has been inordinately negative. With Republicans crusading for the repeal of the law and Democrats championing its passage, not many individuals are discussing what would be the impact of the law actually being repealed. Millions of Americans would lose their health coverage. Young adults between the ages of 21 and 26 would no longer be able to be placed on their parents’ insurance and children, as well as adults, with pre-existing conditions could be denied insurance coverage. Any Americans who have received (or have the potential to receive) refunds from their insurance providers would find those refunds disappearing very quickly. With the current law, 85 percent of one’s insurance premium is required to go to healthcare costs, rather than the company’s profits. This would no longer be required and not only would refunds begin disappearing but healthcare costs could very likely go up – even faster than they already have. Republicans would have a political backlash to deal with when the average American calculates what they have lost, if the law is invalidated. This could greatly harm their chances in the upcoming presidential election. In order to combat this, many GOP members are promising to implement policies that would have the same effects as some of the more popular portions of the ACA, such as coverage for young adults between the ages 21 to 26. The GOP is also trying to frame this as an issue of patriotism by stating that the law is inherently unconstitutional because the government is forcing American’s to purchase insurance. So, the Supreme Court now has a few questions to answer: Is the law truly unconstitutional? If it is deemed unconstitutional, what is more important, ensuring the health of the American public or the current Supreme Court, with its conservative majority asserting that the Constitution has been violated? Regardless of the outcome, the court’s decision will greatly impact the upcoming presidential election and the American public’s ability to ensure its continued health. The Supreme Court’s term ends in June, so a ruling should be coming down from the judicial bench sometime this week.
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