[Marxism] Texas Judge Strikes Down Obama’s Affordable Care Act as Unconstitutional

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Dec 14 19:58:55 MST 2018


NY Times, Dec. 14, 2018
Texas Judge Strikes Down Obama’s Affordable Care Act as Unconstitutional
By Abby Goodnough and Robert Pear

WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Texas struck down on Friday 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 cannot 
stand without it.

The ruling was over a lawsuit filed this year by a group of Republican 
governors and state attorneys general. A group of intervening states led 
by Democrats promised to appeal the decision, which will most likely not 
have any immediate effect. But it will almost certainly make its way to 
the Supreme Court, threatening the survival of the landmark health law 
and, with it, health coverage for millions of Americans, protections for 
people with pre-existing conditions and much more.

In his ruling on Friday, Judge Reed O’Connor of the Federal District 
Court in Fort Worth said that the individual mandate requiring people to 
have health insurance “can no longer be sustained as an exercise of 
Congress’s tax power.”

Accordingly, Judge O’Connor, a George W. Bush appointee, said that “the 
individual mandate is unconstitutional” and the remaining provisions of 
the Affordable Care Act are invalid.

At issue was whether the health law’s insurance mandate still compelled 
people to buy coverage after Congress reduced the penalty to zero 
dollars as part of the tax overhaul that President Trump signed last 
December.

When the Supreme Court upheld the mandate as constitutional in 2012, it 
was based on Congress’s taxing power. Congress, the court said, could 
legally impose a tax penalty on people who do not have health insurance.

But in the new case, the plaintiffs, led by Texas, argued that with the 
penalty zeroed out, the individual mandate had become unconstitutional — 
and that the rest of the law could not be severed from it.

The Justice Department’s response to the case was highly unusual: though 
it disagreed with the plaintiffs that the entire law should be struck 
down, it declined this year to defend not just the individual mandate, 
but the law’s provisions that protect people with pre-existing 
conditions. That prompted a coalition of 16 states and the District of 
Columbia, led by California, to intervene and defend the law.

On Friday night, a spokeswoman for Xavier Becerra, the California 
attorney general, said California and the other defendant states would 
challenge the ruling with an appeal in the United States Court of 
Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans.

“Today’s ruling is an assault on 133 million Americans with pre-existing 
conditions, on the 20 million Americans who rely on the A.C.A.’s 
consumer protections for health care, on America’s faithful progress 
toward affordable health care for all Americans,” Mr. Becerra said in a 
statement. “The A.C.A. has already survived more than 70 unsuccessful 
repeal attempts and withstood scrutiny in the Supreme Court.”

Mr. Trump, who has consistently sought the law’s repeal and has weakened 
it through regulatory changes, posted a response to the ruling on 
Twitter late Friday night: “As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been 
struck down as an UNCONSTITUTIONAL disaster! Now Congress must pass a 
STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare and protects pre-existing 
conditions.”

If Judge O’Connor’s decision ultimately stands, about 17 million 
Americans will lose their health insurance, according to the Urban 
Institute, a left-leaning think tank. That includes millions who gained 
coverage through the law’s expansion of Medicaid, and millions more who 
receive subsidized private insurance through the law’s online marketplaces.

Insurers will also no longer have to cover young adults up to age 26 
under their parents’ plans; annual and lifetime limits on coverage will 
again be permitted; and there will be no cap on out-of-pocket costs.

Also gone will be the law’s popular protections for people with 
pre-existing conditions, which became a major talking point in the 
November midterm elections, as Democratic candidates constantly reminded 
voters that congressional Republicans had tried to repeal the law last 
year. For many, it became the central, often winning message of their 
campaign, and the new ruling bolsters their argument heading into the 
2020 election cycle.

Without those protections, insurers could return to denying coverage to 
such people or to charging them more. They could also return to charging 
people more based on their age, gender or profession.

The Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan research organization, 
estimates that 52 million adults from 18 to 64, or 27 percent of that 
population, would be rejected for coverage under the practices that were 
in effect in most states before the Affordable Care Act.

“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 of the Kaiser 
Family Foundation, wrote on Twitter. “But, the case still has a long 
legal road to travel before that’s an immediate threat.”


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