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Appalachia Health News tells the story of our health challenges and how we overcome them throughout the region. 

‘Obamacare’ Challenge Backed By W.Va. Attorney General Taken Up By Supreme Court

The Affordable Care Act, or 'Obamacare,' is being challenged once again in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
The one thing that's certain is that there will be changes in the Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was back before the U.S. Supreme Court today -- the third time in a decade. If the healthcare law is overturned, hundreds of thousands of West Virginians could be impacted.

The lawsuit to overturn the ACA was brought before the high court after challenges by the Trump Administration, as well as 18 Republican attorneys general, including West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. The challenge questions the constitutionality of the individual mandate, a provision that requires people to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty.

In 2012, the mandate was contested before the Supreme Court and it was upheld. However, in 2017 a Republican-controlled Congress essentially nullified the penalty by making it zero dollars, which has since prompted the lawsuit. The Republican-led lawsuit is asserting that since the penalty is zero dollars and no revenue is raised, the penalty is no longer a tax, therefore, making it unconstitutional.

More than 200,000 West Virginians depend on the Affordable Care Act for health care coverage. Additionally, multiple studies have found more than 700,000 West Virginians have pre-existing medical conditions.

Before the ACA was passed in 2010, Americans could be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Many across the health industry, including hospitals and the American Medical Association, are urging the Supreme Court to uphold the ACA. News outlets are reporting that two conservative justices implied at today’s hearing that the ACA could be upheld even if the individual mandate is struck down.

The Supreme Court is expected to announce its ruling on the case at the end of its term in June 2021.

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