Federal judge in Texas rules Obama’s health care overhaul unconstitutional

Posted December 15, 2018

Judge Reed O'Connor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued his decision Friday evening.

The White House applauded O'Connor's ruling, but said the law remains in place while appeals proceed. They claimed that when Congress repealed the tax penalty a year ago, it eliminated the US Supreme Court's rationale for finding the ACA constitutional in 2012.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise boasted his chamber passed a law to replace Obamacare in May 2017, however, leaving the situation in chaos. A federal judge has struck down the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).

Congress, however, eliminated the tax penalty last December as part of President Trump's major tax overhaul.

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"The remainder of the ACA is non-severable from the individual mandate, meaning that the Act must be invalidated in whole", O'Connor wrote.

Supporters of the law immediately said they would appeal. After Trump ordered the Justice Department to stop defending the health law, a coalition of ACA-supporting states took up the defense.

In oral arguments in September, a lawyer for California said that the harm from striking down the law would be "devastating" and that more than 20 million Americans were able to gain health insurance under it. Bloomberg has more, with the publication adding that the DOJ tried to argue that the individual mandate, including provisions to keep the premium rates the same among healthy individuals and those with pre-existing conditions, should be struck down, but keep the rest of the law intact. In any case, it looks like Obamacare's future will once again depend on the courts. She said the House "will move swiftly to formally intervene in the appeals process to uphold the life-saving protections for people with pre-existing conditions and reject Republicans' effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act". The decision is nearly certain to be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.

The top Senate Democrat on Friday night criticized the court's decision.

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Under the law's community rating provision, insurers are not allowed to set premiums based on a person's health history.

All these provisions meant millions of people with less-than-perfect health records could get comprehensive coverage.

The GOP-led states who brought the lawsuit asked O'Connor to toss out the entire law after Congress repealed the "individual mandate" penalty for going without coverage.

It's no wonder that politicians on both sides of the aisle promised to protect those with pre-existing conditions during the election. As Case Western Law Professor and Volokh Conspiracy contributor Jonathan Adler, who is a longtime critic of the health care law, has argued (along with others), the policy statements made as part of the original law don't really matter, not anymore, because last year's Congress told us quite clearly that they did believe the law could stand on its own without a mandate penalty.

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