By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has joined a Republican lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law known as Obamacare.
Marshall is one of 20 Republican state attorneys general who are seeking to have the law ruled unconstitutional.
The group wrote in a brief filed in the Northern District of Texas this week that the Supreme Court should rule the law unconstitutional because Congress has repealed the individual mandate, a portion of the law that required individuals to purchase health insurance or face a fine.
Most of the lawsuit focuses on the individual mandate. That portion of the Affordable Care Act was intended to be a foundation for the law, supporting other measures within it like provisions that protect pre-existing conditions, allow young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance until they’re 26 and others that provide subsidies.
“Once the heart of the ACA — the individual mandate — is declared unconstitutional, the remainder of the ACA must also fall,” the lawsuit said.
Congress moved to repeal that portion of the law last year, scrapping the penalty beginning in 2019. The requirement for individuals to get health insurance remains, but it can’t be enforced without the monetary penalty.
This isn’t the first time the Supreme Court has addressed the individual mandate. The court ruled the mandate constitutional in a landmark case in 2012, deciding that the mandate’s penalty fell within Congress’ taxation powers.
Marshall and the other Republican AGs on the suit argue that the remainder of the individual mandate — and the law — should be ruled unconstitutional because without the penalty, or tax, the rest of the mandate is unconstitutional and should be ruled invalid.
“Steve Marshall’s politically inspired effort to get rid of the Affordable Care Act could take health insurance away from 483,500 Alabamians, raise premiums, and end the Medicaid expansion, which has been critical for combating the opioid epidemic and keeping rural hospitals afloat,” said Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse.
Republican lawmakers in Congress have failed on several attempts to repeal the whole law, disagreeing within their caucus on just how far to go.