President Joe Biden's administration told the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday that Obamacare's health law must be enforced, reversing the government's position under his Republican predecessor Donald Trump.
The court held oral arguments in November in a bid from Republican-administered states led by Texas to invalidate the Affordable Care Act, as the 2010 law is formally known. The Trump administration had sided with the states challenging Obamacare. A decision must be made at the end of June.
Biden's administration informed the court of the government's new position in a letter submitted by Deputy Advocate General Edwin Kneedler.
The case represents the latest Republican legal attack on Obamacare, the landmark achievement of Democratic former President Barack Obama. Republicans repeatedly failed to withdraw it in Congress, and the Trump administration has taken steps to obstruct the law.
Biden, who was Obama's vice president when the law passed, has pledged to protect and build on Obamacare, helping millions of Americans purchase health insurance by expanding public health programs and providing private insurance marketplaces. to create. Republicans have called it a government overrun.
The reversal of the position in the Supreme Court was expected given Biden's public statements about Obamacare, and Kneedler said there is no need for further legal briefing before the court decides the case. The law was defended in the case by democratically-run states and the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives.
The crux of the matter is whether a provision of law called the "individual mandate" that required Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a financial penalty was legal. The Republican challengers had argued that the mandate was unconstitutional and that, as a result, the entire law should be dropped.
Kneedler told the court that the government "is no longer sticking to the conclusions in the previously submitted letter," filed by the Trump administration. The Biden government believes that the individual mandate was constitutional and, even if it wasn't, the rest of the law should remain in effect, Kneedler added.
During the November discussion, it seemed unlikely that the court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, would strike the entire bill.
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; edited by Will Dunham)
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