New episode of an epic battle: the Supreme Court of the United States on Thursday refused to invalidate Barack Obama’s flagship law on health insurance, leaving in place health coverage for millions of Americans.
His decision, taken by a majority of seven out of nine judges, represents an ex post facto snub for former President Donald Trump, who tried by all means to suppress the emblematic law of his predecessor.
This is the third time that the Court has validated this law since its adoption in 2010. This time, its judgment is based on a procedural argument: according to it, Texas and the other Republican states which brought the appeal were not founded to do so.
“It’s a great victory for the Americans”, reacted Democratic President Joe Biden, referring to the formula he had dropped during the promulgation of the text and remained in the annals: “It’s a big fucking deal.”
During the procedure, Joe Biden had deemed “cruel” this final attempt to cancel a device that proved particularly useful during the Covid-19 pandemic in a country where health care is costly.
“The principle of universal coverage is established and 31 million people now have access to healthcare thanks to this law,” for his part, reacted former President Barack Obama, believing that it was now necessary to continue to “strengthen and to extend it “.
But for Republicans, “this decision does not change the fact that Obamacare has not fulfilled its promises”, especially in terms of lower costs. The law “hurts hard-working families,” the party leaders in the House of Representatives added in a statement.
– “Keystone” –
In its original form, the Affordable Care Act, known as “Obamacare”, required all Americans, even those in good health, to purchase insurance under the pain of financial penalties, and compelled companies to ensure all potential customers, regardless of who. or their state of health.
This reform made it possible to provide health coverage to millions of Americans who had not previously had it and to protect millions more suffering from chronic ailments.
But Republicans have always viewed compulsory insurance as an abuse of government power and have consistently fought to bring down the law.
Their first appeal was against this “individual mandate”. The Supreme Court had validated it in 2012, ruling that the financial penalties could be considered taxes and justified the state’s intervention.
When he arrived at the White House, Donald Trump tried to repeal the law in Congress but suffered a stinging setback. Republican elected officials, however, managed to amend it in 2017 and reduced fines for lack of insurance to zero.
Several Republican states had then introduced new legal remedies, arguing that the law no longer held. In December 2018, a federal judge in Texas had agreed with them: “the keystone” of the building has fallen, the whole law is unconstitutional, he had decided.
It is this decision that the Supreme Court overturned Thursday. “We have not decided the question of the validity of the law, but Texas and the other plaintiffs are not competent to ask it,” wrote progressive judge Stephen Breyer on behalf of the majority of his colleagues.
– “On a mission” –
Two of the three judges appointed by Donald Trump, including Amy Coney Barrett, are part of that majority, which is also a setback for the former president.
The conservative magistrate, confirmed on the run just before the presidential election, was, however, suspected by the left of having been chosen because she had, in the past, criticized the 2015 Supreme Court decision on Obamacare.
She “said she wanted to get rid” of this law, had accused Joe Biden during his confirmation process. “I am not hostile” to this law, nor “on a mission to destroy it”, she had defended herself.
In December, the new Court had already disappointed Donald Trump by refusing to invalidate his defeat to the president.