Posted by 17 December 2018
By a single vote, the U.S. Senate failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Now a federal judge has done what lawmakers failed to do – invalidate the key legislative accomplishment of President Obama’s two terms in office.
On Friday, a federal judge in Texas ruled in a lawsuit brought by attorneys general from 20 states. It centers on how the individual mandate to be covered by health insurance interacts with the rest of the ACA. In the tax bill signed by President Trump last year, the penalty for violating this individual mandate was set at zero. The attorneys general argued that the mandate is essential to upholding the rest of Obamacare. If there is no penalty, they say, the mandate is unenforceable, and the rest of the law cannot work.
Judge Reed O’Connor agreed with these arguments, striking down the law.
Supporters of this ruling say that without an individual mandate, the health insurance markets simply will not work as the architects of the ACA intended. Opponents argue that the judge overreached using weak legal logic. They contend that he could have provided a much narrower ruling, and that this decision was an example of judicial activism meddling in what should be the prerogative of legislators.
This ruling will not immediately invalidate the entire law, however, as it will be appealed to a federal circuit court. The case may end up before the Supreme Court, which has already upheld key parts of the ACA.
Do you think that Obamacare is unconstitutional? Should the law’s insurance mandates and other provisions be scrapped since the individual mandate has essentially been repealed?