"Even if the high court were to decline the case, the drama would raise fresh uncertainties about the millions of Americans who could lose insurance coverage and consumer protections created under the law - especially those with preexisting medical conditions, whom President Trump has vowed to protect even as his administration tries to eliminate the law".
It was unclear when the panel would rule.
Among the arguments by the law's supporters: Those who filed suit have no case because they aren't harmed by a tax that doesn't exist; the reduction of the tax penalty to zero could be read as a suspension of the tax, but the tax's legal structure still exists; and if the individual mandate is now unconstitutional, that doesn't affect the rest of the law. United States is likely bound for the Supreme Court where, despite recent changes among the nine, the majority that previously upheld the law - Roberts and four liberal justices - is still there.
But regardless of the end result, the lawsuit - and the potential for it to again reach the Supreme Court - ensures that health care will be a top issue again this election cycle.
Why it matters to patients and physicians: A Texas-led coalition of 20 states argued that, because Congress reduced the individual tax penalty down to $0, the entire ACA should be eliminated also.
"What do you say to people who say it's absurd to say that the mandate isn't severable from, say, the calorie provisions?" she questioned at one point. With the help and peace of mind that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides for people with preexisting conditions, Mari has been able to live a normal life and her parents, Gabe and Leslie, have not had to worry about their daughter's health care coverage.
Texas and the other Republican-led states that have sued to invalidate the law argue that when Congress in 2017 scrapped a penalty against people who didn't have health insurance, lawmakers removed a pillar of the law that was critical to getting young, healthy people to sign up for coverage and keeping premiums affordable.
The Supreme Court's conservative majority found Congress could not constitutionally order people to buy insurance.
SHAPIRO: They couldn't get the votes needed to repeal the law.
"The Affordable Care Act has what amounts to an inseverability clause because the penalty is essential to drive people to buy insurance."
The government said in March that a total of 11.4 million people signed up during open enrollment season, a dip of about 300,000 from a year ago.
Judge Carolyn King, who was appointed by former President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, did not ask any questions during the hour-and-a-half hearing.
"That would mean they were misleading the American public and their constituents when they said those things", he said. Elrod was nominated by Republican President George W. Bush in 2007.
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), holding a picture of head-injury victim Emilie Saltzman, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) lead fellow congressional Democrats for remarks on health care coverage of pre-existing conditions, on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. July 9, 2019.
The positions of Republican appointees Elrod and Engelhardt, while no doubt arising from valid constitutional concerns, reinforced the partisan cast of the case that has pitted red states against blue states, the Republican Trump administration against the Democratic House.
"If they are successful in striking down the Affordable Care Act, Republicans will own all of the consequences", Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of NY said on a call Monday with reporters.
Samuel Siegel, the lawyer representing California, responded that it isn't the appeals court's job "to do what Congress repeatedly refused to do, which is to repeal the Affordable Care Act".
"It's complicated", he said, noting that the case should go through all the appeals first.