Modest premium hikes expected as Obamacare stabilizes

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Kavanaugh was also grilled on how he might vote on such an ACA case and on his stance on abortion - but he revealed little.

GOP lawmakers were torched previous year for their effort to roll back the law in Congress, with opposition to some repeal proposals polling at more than 75 percent. The Trump administration has refused to defend the law, and instead is arguing that protections for people with preexisting conditions should be struck down.

That raised the prospect that U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor, a conservative appointed by President George W. Bush, may seek to roll back at least some of the consumer protections at the core of the law, often called Obamacare.

Three in 10 of voters (30%) say Washington corruption is the "most important" topic for candidates to discuss, with health care (27%) and the economy and jobs (25%) close by. If he wins confirmation, he may have a number of abortion-related cases to consider before long.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (center) is leading the lawsuit. Now, states are arguing that the entire basis for the health care act standing as constitutional is gone, meaning the entire law is unconstitutional.

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The Supreme Court, in upholding the law in 2012, deemed that penalty a tax and thus a valid and legal exercise of Congress' power of the purse. Congress, the court said, could impose a tax penalty on people who did not have health insurance. Although Congress does not have the ability to require people to buy health insurance, or a vehicle, or a house, this was considered part of lawmakers' taxing authority, Paxton said.

Other states, including New York, New Jersey and MA, have policies banning plans that do not comply with Obamacare, but California would be the first to pass a law explicitly prohibiting the sale of the short-term policies. If the mandate falls, they say, so must the entire law.

Writing off this case would be a mistake, warned Josh Blackman, a professor at South Texas College of Law and frequent commentator on the health care law. This bill aligns with an emerging trend among some Republican candidates to come out in support of pre-existing conditions protections. The administration did not challenge certain other parts of the law, however, like the establishment of health insurance marketplaces and premium subsidies for low- and moderate-income people which, it said, could continue without the mandate.

Yes, there's a lot on the line for people covered through their employers, as well as those insured through the law.

The debate over the Affordable Care Act entered a new phase Wednesday as a federal court in Texas began hearing oral arguments in a lawsuit brought by 20 Republican-led states challenging the constitutionality of the 2010 law.

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Insurers are also returning to the exchanges after several years of exits. Annual and lifetime limits on coverage would once again be permitted, and there would be no cap on out-of-pocket costs. While the health law requires coverage for all conditions without extra premiums, the GOP bill would require that insurers sell to people with preexisting conditions, but not that those policies actually cover those conditions. That would include protections for people with preexisting health conditions that in the past had kept them from getting insurance. The Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan research organization, estimates that 52 million adults 18-64, or 27 percent of that population, would be rejected for coverage under the practices that were in effect in most states before the Affordable Care Act. The Justice Department agrees that the individual mandate is rendered unconstitutional but argues that invalidates only the law's protections of those with pre-existing conditions.

The consulting firm Avalere Health and The Associated Press analyzed state data and found premiums in "Obamacare's" health insurance marketplace will rise only 0.2 percent in MS next year.

After the judge rules, what happens next?

In solidly Republican Arkansas, Democratic state legislator and cancer survivor Clarke Tucker is using the ACA in his campaign to try to flip a U.S. House seat from red to blue.

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