U.S. Supreme Court justices indicated they may throw out other parts of President Barack Obama’s health-care law if they strike down its core requirement that Americans obtain insurance.
A day after the justices cast doubt on the insurance mandate’s survival, they tangled today over the consequences such a ruling would have. The court is in its third and final day of arguments on Obama’s signature domestic achievement, a law that would extend health coverage to 32 million people.
Without mandatory insurance, the government says those provisions would create an industry “death spiral,” in which only patients with costly health conditions would obtain insurance. That would lead to higher premiums, which would prompt healthy policyholders to drop coverage, causing more rate increases, the government says.
The debate on the rest of the health-care law took on added significance after questions from justices yesterday indicated a majority might rule against the insurance requirement.
The Obama administration needs support from at least one Republican appointee on the nine-member court to uphold the 2010 law. Four of them -- Roberts, Scalia, Samuel Alito and Kennedy -- interrupted U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli repeatedly yesterday as he made his case for upholding the law.