Obamacare thrown out by judge, raising insurance uncertainty

16 December, 2018, 09:59 | Author: Lillian Steele
  • Obamacare has been ruled unconstitutional by a U.S. federal judge in Texas

A federal judge in Texas struck down on Friday (Dec 14) the entire Affordable Care Act on the grounds that its mandate requiring people to buy health insurance is unconstitutional and the rest of the law can not stand without it.

U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor in Fort Worth agreed with a coalition of 20 states that a change in tax law previous year eliminating a penalty for not having health insurance invalidated the entire Obamacare law.

The ruling "exposes the monstrous endgame of Republicans' all-out assault on people with pre-existing conditions and Americans' access to affordable health care", Pelosi said in a statement. Check back for updates.

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

In June, the Justice Department partially sided with the Republican state attorneys general, agreeing that the individual mandate must be struck down as unconstitutional but arguing several other provisions could survive.

The GOP's failed effort past year to repeal the law showed there's no consensus within the party itself.

The GOP-led states who brought the lawsuit asked O'Connor to toss out the entire law after Congress repealed the "individual mandate" penalty for going without coverage.

Former Pesident Barack Obama attempted to calm attempted people who fear they will lose their health insurance by saying the decision didn't immediately strike down the law and that there was a long legal battle ahead.

Trump ‘pleased’ Democrats working with Republicans on Obama Care deal
Trump ‘pleased’ Democrats working with Republicans on Obama Care deal

Besides reminding people that Saturday would be the final day to enroll for affordable health care for 2019, Obama appeared to play down the significance of the ruling. For the 2018 coverage year, 8.8 million people signed up for a plan on Healthcare.gov.

US President Donald Trump praised the decision, tweeting: "Wow, but not surprisingly, Obamacare was just ruled unconstitutional by a highly respected judge in Texas".

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

Still, it remains unclear how they might rule in the new case which, if left to stand, has the potential for enormous disruption to the USA health care system. That would be a political victory for Republicans, but it would also likely strip millions of Americans of their health coverage, a policy problem for which Republicans have offered no clear solution. The case will now likely go to the Supreme Court, where the five justices who previously voted to uphold the ACA are still sitting. "US-Law-Profs-Amicus-Br.pdf">this amicus brief. I also debated the merits of the case in this FedSoc podcast.

Peter V. Lee, Executive Director of the state exchange Covered California, echoed that statement and urged consumers to take note of open enrollment deadlines.

"We do have contingency plans", she said then.

"The president has been 100 percent clear: He will not sign a repeal-and-replace package for Obamacare that does not adequately protect individuals who have preexisting conditions", Azar said.

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