Obamacare is no longer valid because of the GOP-led Congress‘ changes to the law, a federal judge said late Friday in a bombshell ruling that sides with state Republicans who argue the’ decision to gut the “individual mandate” rendered the rest of the program null and void.
President Trump, who lambasted his own party for failing to repeal and replace the law as promised, applauded the decision.
Wow, but not surprisingly, ObamaCare was just ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL by a highly respected judge in Texas. Great news for America!
The decision is a huge swipe at the 2010 law and sets the stage for a bigger fight in appeals courts. It will also reverberate on Capitol Hill, where Democrats are set to retake the House majority after running on a pro-Obamacare platform and criticizing GOP candidates for failing to devise a fallback plan if the lawsuit is upheld in the end.
Its timing is also remarkable, coming roughly 24 hours before the deadline to enroll in Obamacare-related coverage on the federal website serving much of the country.
Twenty Republican-led states had argued the Supreme Court cast Obamacare as a package deal, with the mandate to hold insurance — or else pay a tax — tethered to the law’s goodies.
Congress slashed the mandate’s tax to zero, starting in 2019, as part of its tax-cut bill. The states said the rest of the law should fall with it, including protections for people with preexisting medical conditions like cancer or diabetes.
The Trump administration decided not to defend the Obamacare, effectively siding with the states. Yet is asked the judge to wait until open enrollment was complete, to avoid chaos in the markets.
States sympathetic to the law scrambled to limit the fallout from the ruling, saying residents can still find coverage on the exchanges through late Saturday or deadlines set by states with their own portals.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, meanwhile, applauded the ruling, saying it “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.”
The states filed the lawsuit after the GOP failed to replace the law legislatively in 2017. Their efforts faced a major public backlash and were the focal point of Democratic efforts to flip seats during the mid-term campaign.
The strategy worked, as Democrats flipped dozens of House seats to retake the majority.
Blue-state attorneys general had argued the Affordable Care Act should stand because the tax will still be on the books, even if it isn’t actively collecting revenue, and that Congress decided to keep the rest of Obamacare in place despite gutting the penalty.
Judge O’Connor disagreed.
“In some ways, the question before the Court involves the intent of both the 2010 and 2017 Congresses,” he wrote. “The former enacted the ACA. The latter sawed off the last leg it stood on. But however one slices it, the following is clear: The 2010 Congress memorialized that it knew the individual mandate was the ACA keystone.
Democrats reacted with outrage.
“Today’s ruling is an assault on 133 million Americans with preexisting conditions, on the 20 million Americans who rely on the ACA for healthcare, and on America’s faithful progress toward affordable healthcare for all Americans,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “The ACA has already survived more than 70 unsuccessful repeal attempts and withstood scrutiny in the Supreme Court. Today’s misguided ruling will not deter us: our coalition will continue to fight in court for the health and wellbeing of all Americans.”
The American Medical Association decried the ruling as “an incredible step backward” for the U.S. health care system.