A federal judge in Texas just ruled the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional

Faith Castro
December 15, 2018

The tweets are in response to U.S. District Court Judge Reed O'Connor, a George W. Bush appointee, ruling Obamacare must be nixed because the penalty for not being insured was removed by Congress.

But Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who is expected to become House speaker in January, vowed to fight what she called an "absurd ruling".

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: "We expect this ruling will be appealed to the Supreme Court".

The attorney for the suit, Robert Henneke, said the Affordable Care Act is no longer legal because Congress deleted the individual mandate in the GOP's tax bill previous year.

Justice Department lawyers urged the judge to strike down the individual mandate and provisions requiring insurance companies to cover individuals with preexisting health conditions and charge them the same premiums as healthy individuals.

Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told reporters in November that the administration had contingency plans in place for a ruling if the law was overturned, but declined to elaborate on them.

The move now threatens 20 million who rely on its coverage.

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The lawsuit has been opposed by a coalition of 17 Democratic attorneys general, led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a former congressman.

In Texas alone, there are more than 4.5 million "nonelderly adults" with pre-existing conditions that could make it hard for them to get health insurance if Obamacare went away, statistics show.

If the case were to reach the Supreme Court it would mark the third time the justices consider a challenge to fundamental provisions of the law. "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".

The strategy worked, as Democrats flipped dozens of House seats to retake the majority. A group of Republican state attorneys general argued in their lawsuit that the repeal of the tax penalty gutted the argument for ACA legality. The conservative judge had previously ruled against other Obama-era policies.

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The American Medical Association called O'Connor's ruling an "unfortunate step backward for our health system that is contrary to overwhelming public sentiment to preserve pre-existing condition protections".

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