We have breaking news coming from Texas. A federal judge has struck down the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). A group of Republican state attorneys general argued in their lawsuit that the repeal of the tax penalty gutted the argument for ACA legality. 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. That included Medicaid expansion, the employer mandates, the exchanges, and premium subsides for hospitals.
The judge ruled that the mandate and the rest of the law couldn’t be separated. Don’t fall in love with this ruling, as I’m seeing that it a) probably won’t survive an appeal, which is going to happen; and b) it’s not an injunction. In short, law Twitter is saying that the judge’s ruling merely treats the “motion for a preliminary injunction as a request for summary judgment.”
Obamacare was struck down by a Texas federal judge in a ruling that casts uncertainty on insurance coverage for millions of U.S. residents.
U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth agreed with a coalition of Republican states led by Texas that he had to eviscerate the Affordable Care Act, the signature health-care overhaul by President Barack Obama, after Congress last year zeroed out a key provision -- the tax penalty for not complying with the requirement to buy insurance. The decision is almost certain to be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.
“Today’s ruling is an assault on 133 million Americans with preexisting conditions, on the 20 million Americans who rely on the ACA’s consumer protections for health care, and on America’s faithful progress toward affordable health care for all Americans,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement. A spokeswoman for Becerra said an appeal will be filed before Jan. 1.
Texas and an alliance of 19 states argued to the judge that they’ve been harmed by an increase in the number of people on state-supported insurance rolls. They claimed that when Congress repealed the tax penalty last year, it eliminated the U.S. Supreme Court’s rationale for finding the ACA constitutional in 2012.
The Texas judge agreed.
BREAKING: Obamacare core provisions ruled unconstitutional by judge https://t.co/RCdAZrkCW0— Bloomberg Politics (@bpolitics) December 15, 2018
The Texas decision on the Affordable Care Act is out. The individual mandate is unconstitutional, the court rules, and the mandate can't be severed from the rest of the Act. pic.twitter.com/vWgTU8Cdsq— Nicholas Bagley (@nicholas_bagley) December 15, 2018
The court's decision is NOT limited to guaranteed issue and community rating. In the court's view -- and this is *absolutely* insane -- the entire Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. pic.twitter.com/kHXU4E9wrH— Nicholas Bagley (@nicholas_bagley) December 15, 2018
Procedurally, however, the court has not granted an injunction. He has instead treated the red states' motion for a preliminary injunction as a request for summary judgment. pic.twitter.com/wQKGdV0Bsd— Nicholas Bagley (@nicholas_bagley) December 15, 2018
If I'm reading this right, the court did not enjoin the government from enforcing the Affordable Care Act but instead issued a declaratory judgment that it is invalid and unenforceable. That means nothing happens immediately to the ACA as this case is inevitably appeals. pic.twitter.com/8mDwbnRYDZ— Rick Hasen (@rickhasen) December 15, 2018
Distro court judge strikes down ACA, mangling multiple legal doctrines in the process. I doubt this opinion will survive appeal.— Jonathan H. Adler (@jadler1969) December 15, 2018