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