17 Dec 2018

OFFICIAL UPDATE: Federal Judge in Texas Rules Obamacare Unconstitutional

OFFICIAL UPDATE: Federal Judge in Texas Rules Obamacare Unconstitutional

**Federal Judge Rules Obamacare Unconstitutional – If a federal judge’s ruling calling Obamacare unconstitutional is upheld, tens of millions of people will be affected because of insurance changes.**

Because Congress removed a penalty for individuals who fail to maintain insurance coverage, a Texas-based federal judge has thrown 20 million Americans’ health care into question as he ruled that Obamacare is unconstitutional, also known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The 2010 landmark law’s invalidation will affect the nation’s healthcare system if the ruling is upheld during the appeals process.

The decision was rendered by U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth, Texas, who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush. The decision was made Friday in response to a lawsuit from 20 conservative-led states that were wanting Obamacare invalidated, and the ACA threw out.

They successfully argued that the mandate penalty was a critical part of the law and that without it, the entire framework is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court had upheld the law in 2012 and classified the legislation as a form of tax. Then in 2017, Congress removed the mandate, which O’Connor said will not allow the ACA to legally stand because if the system isn’t upheld by participants being mandated, then it cannot stand.

O’Connor wrote that “In sum, the Individual Mandate is so interwoven with (the ACA’s) regulations that they cannot be separated. None of them can stand.”

According to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has led several liberal states in defending the ACA, there will be an appeal filed right away. This could ultimately become the third case regarding Obamacare that has advanced to the Supreme Court. Twice, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare as being legal.

Judge Rules Against Obamacare – The Impact of the Ruling

The decision was handed down less than 24 hours before the 2019 sign-up period for Obamacare was to close. Judge O’Connor didn’t issue any form of an injunction, which makes it unclear as to whether the current administration can continue enforcing the ACA in the upcoming term. However, enrollment for Obamacare for 2019 was set to continue until the deadline on Saturday, according to representatives for the Trump administration.

Head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Seema Verma oversees the insurance marketplaces for Obamacare. She wrote that the exchanges remained open for business and that there is not an impact to current coverage or to any anticipated insurance coverage to be provided in a 2019 plan that an individual might purchase.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has voiced his displeasure with the ruling and said that if a higher court upholds it, it could mean disaster for millions of families across the country, especially for those who have pre-existing conditions and can maintain coverage affordably through Obamacare.

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