Court Strikes Down Part of ObamaCare, Casting Doubt on Law’s Future
Written by Luis Miguel
A federal appeals court on Wednesday shot down the now-neutralized ObamaCare requirement compelling Americans to have health insurance.
While the ruling gave a final death blow to the “individual mandate,” it did not weigh in on the overall constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, meaning the rest of the healthcare law remains in effect for now.
The 2-1 ruling came from a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The panel concurred with a 2018 finding by Texas-based U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, who said the individual mandate was rendered unconstitutional when Congress set the tax on Americans without health insurance to zero back in 2017.
That year, 20 attorney generals from across the country filed a suit in O’Connor’s court claiming that ObamaCare lost validity when Republicans essentially voided the law’s enforceability by reducing the penalty to zero via their tax reform bill.
The unconstitutionality of the individual mandate made the entire Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, O’Connor said, though his ruling was appealed and the healthcare law was allowed to remain in effect throughout the appeals process.
“Once the heart of the ACA — the individual mandate — is declared unconstitutional, the remainder of the ACA must also fail,” the 2017 suit said.
But the court on Wednesday did not reach a decision on the question of how much of ObamaCare goes down with the insurance mandate.
“It may still be that none of the ACA is severable from the individual mandate, even after this inquiry is concluded. It may be that all of the ACA is severable from the individual mandate. It may also be that some of the ACA is severable from the individual mandate, and some is not,” Judge Jennifer Elrod wrote.
The Wednesday decision sends the case back to O’Conner, but with the guidance that he must be specific as to which parts of the Affordable Care Act cannot be separated from the mandate. The judge must also take into account Congress’ decision to leave the rest of the law unchanged when it set the penalty to zero.
In a dissenting opinion, Judge Carolyn Dineen King asserted that her colleagues were dragging out “uncertainty over the future of the healthcare sector.” King considered the mandate constitutional, though unenforceable given new tax law, and would have left the rest of ObamaCare alone.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who is leading efforts to defend the law, pledged to work for a prompt appeal to the Supreme Court.
“For now, the President got the gift he wanted — uncertainty in the healthcare system and a pathway to repeal — so that the healthcare that seniors, workers and families secured under the Affordable Care Act can be yanked from under them,” Becerra stated.
Meanwhile, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who led the lawsuit to strike down ObamaCare, praised the court’s decision to declare the individual mandate unconstitutional.
“As the court’s opinion recognized, the only reason the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare in 2012 was Congress’ taxing power, and without the individual mandate’s penalty that justification crumbled,” Paxton wrote. “We look forward to the opportunity to further demonstrate that Congress made the individual mandate the centerpiece of Obamacare and the rest of the law cannot stand without it.”
President Trump lauded the appeals court’s decision in a statement, calling it a “win for all Americans”:
Today’s decision in Texas v. Azar is a win for all Americans and confirms what I have said all along: that the individual mandate, by far the worst element of Obamacare, is unconstitutional.
This decision will not alter the current healthcare system. My Administration continues to work to provide access to high-quality healthcare at a price you can afford, while strongly protecting those with pre-existing conditions. The radical healthcare changes being proposed by the far left would strip Americans of their current coverage. I will not let this happen. Providing affordable, high-quality healthcare will always be my priority. They are trying to take away your healthcare, and I am trying to give the American people the best healthcare in the world.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called the ruling a “chilling threat” to those who depend on ObamaCare.
Congress previously failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety. With the fate of its constitutionality now at stake, Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement is likely to become a campaign issue going into the 2020 presidential election.
Luis Miguel is a writer whose journalistic endeavors shed light on the Deep State, the immigration crisis, and the enemies of freedom. Follow his exploits on Facebook, Twitter, Bitchute, and at luisantoniomiguel.com.
Courtesy of The New American