US Supreme Court schedules ‘Obamacare’ discussion for end of month

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The U.S. Supreme Court will consider taking up the legal challenge to former President Barack Obama’s health care law later this month.

The discussion, scheduled for Feb. 21, comes after justices refused to take up the case before the court’s current term ends in June, likely delaying a verdict until after this year’s election.

A federal appeals court ruled in December the law’s individual mandate is unconstitutional while also directing the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas to determine what remaining parts of “Obamacare” are lawful.

West Virginia, 17 other Republican-led states and the U.S. Department of Justice support the ongoing legal challenge that could end the law and its provisions, including protections for pre-existing conditions and allowing states to expand Medicaid.

A West Virginia University study estimates 719,000 non-elderly West Virginians have a pre-existing condition, and more than 156,000 residents are enrolled in the state’s Medicaid expansion program.

Democratic-led states and the U.S. House of Representatives are pushing the court to consider the matter in the court’s next term, which will begin in October. The two parties say uncertainty will hang over health care until a final verdict from the Supreme Court.

Republicans in the case argue Congress made the individual mandate unconstitutional after it zeroed out the penalty for not purchasing health insurance in the 2017 tax law. The coalition adds because the provision is tied to other portions of “Obamacare,” the law no longer stands.

The GOP state coalition and the Justice Department filed briefs Monday asking the Supreme Court to delay action in the legal challenge until after the appeals process concludes.

“This Court should not allow petitioners to leapfrog lower-court consideration based on their own asserted ‘need for certainty,’ the state group said in its filing.

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