The Supreme Court will decide the fate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” and consequently the fate of health care for college students across the nation, after hearing arguments in a 26-state lawsuit against the federal government this week. A mandate requiring every American to purchase health insurance if otherwise uncovered, discussed Tuesday in court, is the foundation of the act, according to political science professor Anthony Peacock. Without the individual mandate, the federal government would have no other way to insure people, he said. “The question is, ‘How do you pay for it?’” Peacock said. “The only way to pay for (the act) is the mandate.” Critics of the law said during Wednesday’s arguments that the mandate could not be severed from the rest of the act, and if the mandate goes, the rest of the act goes with it. “If you take the heart out of the statute, the statute is gone,” said Justice Antonin Scalia. According to a Washington Post article Tuesday, a variety of opinions are circulating on whether the health care law could survive without the mandate. Peacock said the government argues the mandate can be severed from the act, leaving the other provisions in place without forcing insurance on everybody. “The federal government is arguing it can be severed and they’ll find other ways to finance it,” Peacock said. Part of the act’s reforms state there can be no limits on health care an individual receives, and companies cannot turn away prospective policyholders due to pre-existing conditions, said Dr. James Davis, director of USU’s Student Health and Wellness Center. Because of these new provisions, severing the mandate and leaving the rest of the law intact would cause premiums to skyrocket for sick people, because healthy people are less likely to buy insurance, he said. “Only ill people will be paying for health care,” Davis said. “The only way we are paying for health care is by having healthy people.” Davis said in his opinion, the health care law was not thought through well enough because it takes away limits on health care consumption, and it is unclear how much it will be used if the act stays in place.
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