Health bosses reeling as judge rules Obamacare 'unconstitutional'

U.S. judge finds obamacare unconstitutional

U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor in Fort Worth sided with the argument put forward by a coalition of Republican-leaning states, led by Texas, that the Affordable Care Act could no longer stand now that there's no penalty for Americans who don't buy insurance.

The Affordable Care Act, once ruled constitutional because of the "individual mandate" provision, has been now ruled unconstitutional by a Texas judge - due to that provision being eliminated. They say that it willfully ignores the intent of the 2017 Congress, which zeroed out the individual mandate penalty without touching the rest of the Affordable Care Act.

He said the U.S. Supreme Court's conservative wing has been skeptical in the past of striking down entire laws because of a single problematic provision, and at least a bare majority of five justices would likely agree that O'Connor was wrong.

So Obamacare is dead, right? "Over the last 8 years since it was signed into law, we have found out that the Democrats who passed it caused millions of families to lose the plans and doctors they liked, and imposed unaffordable premiums and deductibles that undermine the basic coverage that families enjoy".

Shares of health insurers, hospitals, and healthcare companies fell in early trading on Monday (Dec 17), after a federal judge ruled the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, unconstitutional late last week.

"It affects nearly everyone in America", said Tim Jost, a specialist in health law and a professor emeritus at Washington and Lee University.

Medicare would be affected because the ACA expanded no-cost coverage of preventive services and reduced the bills of seniors with high prescription drug costs.

Yes. In 2012, the Supreme Court reasoned that while government can not order citizens to buy something, Obamacare's "shared-responsibility payment" (a.k.a. penalty) for not having an insurance plan effectively amounts to a tax, which is an acceptable government practice.

Having this decision come in the closing hours of open enrollment also sows seeds of unnecessary confusion. While the judge declared that the whole law was invalid, as Texas and 19 other states had asserted, he did not issue an injunction to stop federal officials from enforcing it, and the effects of the judgment could be delayed pending appeals. Nor did the White House rush to change any of its policies; in fact, they stated over the weekend that they would continue to operate the ACA as before.

"When House Democrats take the gavel, the House of Representatives will move swiftly to formally intervene in the appeals process to uphold the life-saving protections for people with pre-existing conditions and reject Republicans' effort to destroy the Affordable Care Act", said Pelosi in a statement issued to the press.

Judge O'Connor reasoned that because the individual mandate will no longer collect revenue, it is no longer considered a tax. There's nearly no chance this ruling holds.

But congressional leaders were quick to point out that the suit is far from over. "It is like watching a slow game of Jenga, each party poking at a different provision to see if the ACA falls". He concluded it is "impermissible under the Interstate Commerce Clause-meaning the Individual Mandate is unconstitutional".

The AMA will work with patient and other health stakeholder groups in pursuing an appeal and reversal of this unfortunate decision at the district court level. Higher courts will be tempted to allow those policies to stand in place by allowing for severability within the ACA, even if the smarter policy would be to unwind all of it and send it back to the states. "Our first stop is the courts". How likely is Roberts to throw out the pre-existing conditions bathwater with the mandate baby? "In that world, a Republican judge cuts tens of millions of people off health insurance mere weeks after Republicans lost a midterm election for merely trying to cut those people off health insurance", he continued.

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