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Health Care Hangs in the Balance

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The US supreme court confronted what one justice characterised as a choice between a "wrecking operation" and a "salvage job" as it considered the future of Barack Obama's signature healthcare reforms if a key component is found to be unconstitutional.

In a third and final day of an unusually long hearing Wednesday on the politically charged legislation, the court heard from its opponents that the entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act should be struck down if, as looks possible, the justices find a requirement for almost all Americans to buy medical insurance to be unconstitutional.

Paul Clement, acting for 26 US states that oppose the legislation, said that the requirement for mandatory insurance is designed to fund many of the law's other reforms. He said that without the funding, they are unworkable.

"If the individual mandate is unconstitutional, then the rest of the act cannot stand," said Clement.

The government acknowledged that the loss of the insurance requirement will make some other parts of the legislation unworkable. It said that the loss of funds from about 40 million more people paying insurance would cause the collapse of some new requirements, such as a bar on insurance companies turning away people with pre-existing conditions. But it argued that most of the hundreds of other provisions of the act could remain.

Read more at the Guardian...

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