Published: Tue, December 18, 2018
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

Obamacare is unconstitutional, judge rules

Obamacare is unconstitutional, judge rules

After struggling for eight years to come up with an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, some Republicans in Congress seemed to hope that the judge's decision would be a catalyst for cooperation, which has been virtually nonexistent to date.

After the judge's ruling, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, "We expect this ruling will be appealed to the Supreme Court".

Last year, however, congressional Republicans - unsuccessful in their bid to repeal and replace Obamacare - moved to eliminate the individual mandate in effect. The rest of the law can not be separated from that provision and is therefore invalid, he wrote.

They face a new era of uncertainty, with hospitals contemplating the loss of billions of dollars over the costs for uninsured patients and insurers trying to figure out what their customer base could look like should the ruling be upheld on appeal. But the legal fight is revving up once more.

He added, "Not only does tonight's ruling confirm that this broken law can not hold up under court scrutiny, but it also affirms that the law does not actually protect people with preexisting conditions".

"This decision does not require that HHS make any changes to any of the ACA programs it administers or its enforcement of any portion of the ACA at this time", HHS said Monday.

"As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been struck down as an UNCONSTITUTIONAL disaster!" he tweeted.

Congress is unlikely to act while the case remains in the courts.

Thereafter, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it would not defend the mandate or some of the ACA's key insurance market reform provisions.

She said the ruling is "an unfortunate step backward for our health system that is contrary to overwhelming public sentiment to preserve pre-existing condition protections and other policies that have extended health insurance coverage to millions of Americans".

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The ruling will undoubtedly be appealed, and is likely to meander through the court system until it reaches the Supreme Court at some future date.

Legal expert Timothy Jost, a supporter of the health law, said O'Connor's ruling would have repercussions for almost all Americans if it stands. Employers would no longer be required to keep young adult children of their workers covered up to age 26. He found that the individual insurance mandate couldn't be legally separated from the rest of the law - so the entire package would have to be struck down because of the mandate's removal.

Saturday is the sign-up deadline for 2019 private plans through HealthCare.gov. But the passage of statewide referendums in November and the election of Democratic governors could also mean coverage expansions in the coming year under the health law's Medicaid expansion. The Supreme Court upheld this individual mandate in 2012.

"It's an bad, terrible ruling, and we're going to fight this tooth-and-nail, and the first thing we're going to do when we get back there in the Senate is urge - put a vote on the floor urging an intervention in the case", Schumer said on NBC's "Meet the Press".

"They are asking the court to evaluate the current law on the basis of what the law used to be", Jonathan Adler, a law professor at Case Western University who supported previous Obamacare challenges, has told Vox.

"To give a contrary example to those who are critical of this opinion, alleging that it will cause people to lose their insurance, I would point to the fact that you already have millions of people who have lost their insurance because of their inability to afford" the government-mandated plans, Henneke said. What's more, Republican efforts to repeal the ACA failed in the same Congress.

Democrats set to take control of the House in January are talking about passing legislation that enshrines protections for pre-existing conditions. There is not now a viable alternative to the law that can pass the House and Senate and get signed into law by President Trump.

Last year, when the Republican Congress lifted an ACA tax penalty - tied to the individual insurance requirement - it left other coverage intact. Without the federal tax credits, insurance would become unaffordable for many Americans and being a woman could once again be considered a pre-existing condition.

While that bill would prevent insurers from outright refusing to cover people with pre-existing conditions or from charging them higher premiums, it would also allow them to exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions from their plans altogether.

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