On Friday, a federal judge in Texas ruled the individual coverage mandate under ObamaCare unconstitutional. District Judge Reed O’Connor said the individual mandate is not permissible under Congress’ Tax Power anymore and is still impermissible with the Interstate Commerce Clause. He added that the ACA and the mandate are inseparable.
20 Republican governors and state attorneys general along with two others brought the case against the ACA into the court. The mandate dictates health insurance for nearly every American else they are penalized. The case is centered around Congress getting rid of the penalty. In June, the Trump Administration confirmed that zeroing out the penalty makes the mandate unconstitutional, discrediting protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions, but did not deny the constitutionality of the ACA overall.
Repeal of healthcare cannot happen right away. Yet, several states, led by California, are looking to appeal. For those with pre-existing conditions, the ruling threatens their livelihood. Over 4 million people already registered for coverage in 2019. Millions more are expected to join before open enrollment ends.
American Medical Association president, Barbara McAney, said: “Today’s decision 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,” she said in a statement. “It will destabilize health insurance coverage by rolling back federal policy to 2009. No one wants to go back to the days of 20 percent of the population uninsured and fewer patient protections, but this decision will move us in that direction.”
Virginia Attorney General, Mark Herring, issued a statement against the lawsuit and the ruling. A spokesperson for California Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, hinted at an appeal of the decision. Attorney General voiced his take on the matter: “The ACA has already survived more than 70 unsuccessful repeal attempts and withstood scrutiny in the Supreme Court. Today’s misguided ruling will not deter us: our coalition will continue to fight in court for the health and wellbeing of all Americans.”
Many Democratic candidates were elected during the midterm elections because they are viewed as proponents of ACA provisions. Provisions include “guaranteed issue” which compels insurers to offer coverage to all regardless of medical history, the ban on excluding pre-existing conditions forbidding insurers refusing to pay for treatments based on a policyholder’s medical history, and the community rating provision that stops insurers from setting premiums per one’s medical record.
Former President Obama reassured worried recipients of ObamaCare by reminding them the law is not going anywhere until a final ruling is made which could take years. President Trump praised the ruling to the chagrin of Republican allies and Congress members like Nancy Pelosi, Ted Lieu, and Chuck Schumer who opposed him on Twitter.
Featured Image via Flickr/Ted Eytan