Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

Texas Judge Rules Obamacare Unconstitutional

Information cards displayed during an Affordable Care Act enrollment event in San Antonio Texas in 2016. A federal judge struck down the health insurance law as unconstitutional Friday MoreCloseclosemore
Francis Osborne | 15 December, 2018, 07:59

A federal judge in Texas ruled on Friday that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, a decision that was likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court. They claimed that when Congress repealed the tax penalty previous year, it eliminated the US Supreme Court's rationale for finding the ACA constitutional in 2012.

Twenty Republican-led states brought the lawsuit. "The remainder of the ACA is non-severable from the individual mandate, meaning that the Act must be invalidated in whole".

The law includes provisions that provide subsidies that help people buy coverage, its expansion of Medicaid to millions of low income people, and its protections that let people with pre-existing conditions buy insurance.

In a ruling released Friday evening, a federal judge in Texas sided with states arguing that key provisions of the Affordable Care Act or "Obamacare" are unconstitutional. They say that the voiding of the penalty, which takes effect next year, removes the legal underpinning the Supreme Court relied upon when it upheld the law in 2012 under Congress' tax power. There is no reason to not sign up while the implications of the judge's ruling are tested.

The Trump administration said in June that it would not defend several important provisions of Obamacare in court. "Our lawsuit seeks to effectively repeal Obamacare, which will give President Trump and Congress the opportunity to replace the failed social experiment with a plan that ensures Texans and all Americans will again have greater choice about what health coverage they need and who will be their doctor".

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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. The lawsuit argues that, with the enforcement of the insurance requirement gone, there is no longer a tax, so the law is not constitutional anymore.

O'Connor's ruling comes one day ahead of when Obamacare's marketplaces will close for most of the country's open enrollment period. "Pending the appeal process, the law remains in place".

Repealing the Affordable Care Act could lead to about 15 million people losing their health insurance coverage, according to Ana Gupte, a Wall Street analyst at Leerink Partners. And yet, Republicans have made it clear that their priority is attacking access to critically-needed health care, protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and insurance for young people. California and other states had intervened to defend the 2010 health care law after the Trump administration declined to defend its provisions that guarantee coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, arguing that those provisions can not be separated from the mandate.

US Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said: "If this very bad ruling is upheld in the higher courts, itwill be a disaster for tens of millions of American families".

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