The Trump administration filed a brief Thursday encouraging the Supreme Court to strike down the entirety of the Affordable Care Act, threatening to leave 23 million Americans uninsured amid a pandemic that has killed more than 120,000 people in the United States.
The briefing, filed by Solicitor General Noel Francisco, reaffirms the government’s position that the lack of an individual mandate renders the legislation known as Obamacare unconstitutional. Last year, a federal appeals court found the individual mandate—which requires uninsured Americans to pay a yearly penalty—unconstitutional, because it could no longer be considered a tax after it was set to zero by the GOP’s 2017 tax bill. In March, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear the case, brought by Republican attorneys general, to determine whether the invalidation of the individual mandate would nullify the rest of the health care law.
The Supreme Court is likely to hear oral arguments in the case in the fall, and the case could weigh heavily in the minds of voters headed to the polls to vote for president in November.
In a statement released late Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the Trump administration’s stance “an act of unfathomable cruelty” that threatens to strip coverage for preexisting conditions away from the 130 million Americans who rely on it. Meanwhile, more than one million Americans have filed for unemployment each week for the past 14 weeks, leaving many without employer-based coverage, instead relying on the Affordable Care Act for insurance. As Republican strategist Joel White told Yahoo News, “Politically, it’s pretty dumb to be talking about how we need to repeal Obamacare in the middle of a pandemic.”