Federal judge declares Obama health care overhaul unconstitutional

Spencer Underwood
December 15, 2018

If appealed, the decision would still need to go through the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.

Although Democratic attorneys general, lawmakers, and policy analysts have repeatedly maintained that the TCJA zeroed out the penalty rather than eliminated it, O'Connor disagreed. "For the reasons stated above, the Court grants Plaintiffs partial summary judgment and declares the Individual Mandate, 26 U.S.C. § 5000A (a), UNCONSTITUTIONAL".

However, in 2017 Congress did repeal the requirement - the so-called individual mandate - that people buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty.

Two Republicans - Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and his Wisconsin counterpart Brad Schimel led the legal challenge. "The Court finds the Individual Mandate "is essential to" and inseverable from "the other provisions of" the ACA", wrote O'Connor in his 55-page long opinion.

He followed that missive with another celebratory tweet, demanding that House Speaker-Designate Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) immediately work on replacement legislation that will protect pre-existing conditions and provide great health care.

"Today's ruling is an assault on 133 million Americans with preexisting conditions, on the 20 million Americans who rely on the ACA for health care, and on America's faithful progress toward affordable health care for all Americans,"Becerra said in a news release".

A spokesperson for California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said defendant states will appeal the decision. However, the Trump administration sided with Texas et all.


Judge O'Connor acknowledged that health care is a "politically charged affair - inflaming emotions and testing civility".

The decision also comes one day before the open enrollment deadline.

Shortly afterwards, President Trump tweeted, "As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been struck down as an UNCONSTITUTIONAL disaster!"

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

"If this Texas decision on the ACA is upheld, it would throw the individual insurance market and the whole health care system into complete chaos", Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation said on Twitter.

But other states have argued that eliminating Obamacare would harm millions of Americans, and pending any appeal the landmark health care law remains in place. "We want to make sure that people with pre-existing conditions have protection, and we want to make sure that people have access to affordable coverage".

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