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Health bosses reeling as judge rules Obamacare 'unconstitutional'

18 December 2018
Health bosses reeling as judge rules Obamacare 'unconstitutional'

A federal judge in Texas has struck down the whole of the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare", as unconstitutional. Before the ACA became law, insurance companies could charge people with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, cancer or heart disease more for coverage, or refuse to cover them outright. Republicans who tried to undermine those safeguards during their failed effort to repeal the health law a year ago were forced on the defensive and went on record saying they, too, want to make sure people with health problems can get coverage.

Ted Frank, a lawyer and conservative ACA critic, told the Post that he thought the ruling was "embarrassing", and the the judge was "twisting (himself) into knots" to justify striking the law, suggesting he doubted higher courts would affirm the ruling. "His administration has done good work revising regulations to reduce health-care costs and increase access, but the risk is that the lawsuit will cause Republicans in Congress to panic politically and strike a deal with Democrats that reinforces Obamacare".

A federal judge's surprise move late in the day on December 14 to strike down the Affordable Care Act statute in its entirety is sending shock waves through the political world, but a jubilant lawyer on the winning legal team said the court ruling strikes a blow for freedom, is constitutionally sound, and is here to stay.

Mercury rising. That political reckoning is likely to hit soon.

"This is a five-alarm fire", said Sen.

Health-care investors already were licking their wounds from Johnson & Johnson's $45 billion plunge on Friday related to a Reuters report about asbestos in baby powder. A vote on a resolution to do so is expected in the earliest days of the new Congress.

Where did the Texas case come from?

Even if only the marketplace and insurance reforms were invalidated, the implications would be far reaching, as nearly 12 million Americans received insurance through the exchange marketplace in 2018, and those provisions also affect the scope, pricing and availability of health insurance coverage to individuals well beyond just the individual exchange marketplace, including those with pre-existing conditions. That latter group will also include many Republicans who campaigned on the promise to protect people with pre-existing conditions and could face political consequences if they renege on that. The ruling is written so that it won't take effect immediately, giving higher courts time to consider the case.

"The recent US District Court decision regarding the Affordable Care Act is not an injunction that halts the enforcement of the law and not a final judgment".

But the timing of the decision seemed created to maximize political reverberations. The Trump administration is not defending the Affordable Care Act, so Becerra and 16 other Democratic attorneys general have stepped in. Meanwhile, a number of states are expected to move forward with Medicaid expansion after Democratic victories in the midterm elections. O'Connor's decision may be reversed on an intermediate appeal, but because of the importance of the massive law, a looming question reverberated Monday: What would the Supreme Court do?

About 11.8 million consumers nationwide enrolled in 2018 Obamacare exchange plans, according to the USA government's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. "There will be no impact to enrollees' current coverage or their coverage in a 2019 plan".

US President Donald Trump, who has vowed to dismantle his predecessor's landmark legislation, described the ruling as great news for America. 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.

Nineteen states, including Texas, and consumers then filed suit contending that the revised law was unconstitutional because the individual mandate was so integral to the law that it could not function without it.

MI democrats plan on fighting a federal judge's ruling that was made Friday on the Affordable Care Act. The decision would also have implications for the administration's own agenda. Health care was the top issue for about one-fourth of voters in the November election, ahead of immigration and jobs and the economy, according to VoteCast, a nationwide survey for The Associated Press.

More than 170 million Americans are covered by employers and they could lose no-cost preventive care, from screening tests like colonoscopies to birth control for women. "It seems pretty clear that the presidential nominee, whoever it is, will support Medicare for all". In 2016, the Republican-dominated Legislature passed the largest tax cut in the state's history, phasing out the $260-million-a-year corporate franchise tax and cutting $145 million in income taxes.

FILE - This Oct. 23, 2018 file photo shows HealthCare.gov website on a computer screen in NY.

Rovner says people should act as if the ACA is still in place, but the ruling opens a possibility for "an enormous disruption". Those states are Idaho, Maine, Nebraska, Utah and Virginia. He found that the individual insurance mandate couldn't be legally separated from the rest of the law - so the entire package would have to be struck down because of the mandate's removal.