We probably won’t know the outcome for months, but the U.S. Supreme Court has already taken a preliminary vote on the health care reform law. Rep. Henry Waxman, a California architect of the Affordable Care Act, sees the case as a direct challenge to Congress.
"I can’t believe that Chief Justice Roberts wants to preside over a court that will be looked at in history as a partisan Republican court," he said. The L.A. Democrat points to earlier court decisions in Bush v. Gore and Citizens United. "If they say the Congress and the executive cannot pass legislation to provide health care for Americans, I would think that would be the final straw for many people."
Waxman says the law was passed by elected people empowered by the constitution to make those decisions.
"If they judge us unconstitutional because they don’t like the law, they’re exceeding their responsibility."
Justices also considered whether parts of the Affordable Care Act could stand if just the mandate to have health insurance is found unconstitutional. Waxman, who shepherded the Affordable Care Act through the Energy and Commerce Committee when he was its chairman, insists the law should be looked at as a whole. He says without a mandate, "then we cannot as a practical matter tell insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions because some of those people might not buy insurance until they’re sick, and others go without insurance coverage which will mean that insurance companies will have to price insurance too high and drive more people out of getting coverage at all."
The health care law passed when Democrats controlled both the House and Senate. The final bill didn’t get a single Republican vote.