The fate of the Affordable Care Act may hinge on the appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court — as Democrats have rightly been pointing out.
But supporters of the health care law, if anything, underestimate the dangers to the law posed by conservative legal challenges and a rightward shift on the Court. Aspects of Kavanaugh’s jurisprudence as it relates to health care, especially his views about executive power, raise concerns that deserve more attention than they have been given so far —particularly because the president and his agencies have been using their powers to sabotage the ACA for more than a year.
One highly politicized challenge to the ACA coming out of Texas has indeed received a lot of attention: It turns on the question of whether the entire health care law should be struck down now that Congress has eliminated the ACA’s penalty for failing to comply with the so-called “individual mandate” to buy health insurance under the law. But the ACA is under attack on multiple legal fronts; anyone concerned needs to focus on more than just Texas.
Taken together, these challenges threaten to end the ACA’s essential protections, including a minimum level of care for all and guaranteed access to quality health care regardless of preexisting conditions.