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Supreme Court's Affordable Care Act Decision Could Impact Millions Of Pennsylvanians

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

Passed in 2010, some Republicans have tried for years to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Unable to do that, now they're trying to get the Supreme Court to repeal it for them.

"There's 5.2 million Pennsylvanians that have a pre-existing condition," Antoinette Kraus with Pennsylvania Health Access Network said.

It's easy to forget how the ACA affects most Pennsylvanians – besides seniors with cheaper prescription drugs.

"Eighty-nine-thousand young adults have been able to stay on their parents' health insurance coverage, and there are 966,000 Pennsylvanians that could lose health insurance all together," said Kraus.

Ad then there's the jobs at Pittsburgh's medical institutions.

"The Affordable Care Act has actually lowered the amount that institutions have had to cover, and that's allowed them to have healthier bottom lines, and this is important as we see they are major employers moving forward because that allows them to continue to grow, continue to hire people," said Duquesne University professor Andrew Simpson.

Given what's at stake, Pitt Law School Dean Amy Wildermuth -- who clerked at the Supreme Court -- thinks justices may avoid striking down the law.

"I think that result would be highly unlikely," said Wildermuth.

Instead, the court could rule the litigants did not have the right to bring this lawsuit because there's no injury.

"There's a statement in the law that says individuals must buy insurance but there's no penalty to it. There's no nothing that happens after somebody doesn't buy insurance. So the question is, is that really an injury?" Wildermuth said.

The specific issue is whether Congress has the constitutional power to require all Americans get health insurance – the court could say Congress does not, but still let stand the rest of the ACA's protections.

"I think the Affordable Care Act will continue to exist as people know it today," said Wildermuth.

Of course, nobody can predict the Supreme Court – especially this one. A decision is likely by early spring.

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