SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX ) — The US Supreme court heard arguments early Tuesday morning on whether the Affordable care act should remain in place. While a majority of justices appeared to agree, there’s no guarantee how the Court will eventually rule.
Obamacare has faced dozens of legal challenges before, but this time is different. The U.S. is in the middle of a pandemic, a week after a contentious presidential election and with a new conservative justice on the bench, solidifying what some experts define as a new conservative court.
The stakes are high.
““We could potentially have 4 million Californians lose coverage outright but many millions more will see higher premiums, reduced consumer protections and ultimately overall chaos and catastrophe in California’s health care system,” remarked Anthony Wright, Executive Director of Health Access.
Twenty-one state Attorney Generals, led by California, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to step in.
“We would suffer tremendously if the Affordable Care Act were to go away.” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra
The most visible effect of overturning the Obamacare would once again allow insurance discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions.
Roughly half of all adults under age 64 who live in the Bay Area has at least one pre-existing condition, including heart and lung disease, stroke, asthma, arthritis, neurological conditions, auto-immune problems, substance abuse, pregnancy, HIV, obesity, depression, and cancer.
“Oh my God! It’s crazy,” exclaimed Hani Yasir, of San Bruno.
KPIX 5 first met Hani Yasir 11 years ago. At that time, the auto mechanic was paying a small fortune for an individual policy. Today he has Covered California.
Yasir said it’s more affordable with better coverage — no annual or lifetime limits and free preventive screenings. If the law is tossed, it all goes away.
Hani was recently diagnosed with lung cancer.
“I need it now because I’m really ill. So, I hope they keep it.”
However, the most significant blow? Under Obamacare, California gets $27 billion a year in federal funding to cover health care costs for low income families. It has been a godsend during the pandemic, with the scores of newly unemployed.
“There is no way in the world California or any state can make up for the rollback of federal support provided by the Affordable Care Act,” noted Covered California’s Executive Director Peter Lee.
He added that the thing we can do now is if you’re with Covered California, is to renew your coverage
The Court is expected to rule before its term ends in June.
KPIX 5 contacted House Minority Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Republican Tom McClintock multiple times to see if they would share their views about the ACA and the case before the Supreme Court. Mr. McCarthy’s office never returned our requests and Mr. McClintock’s office told us he was unavailable.