Affordable Care Act Struck Down by Texas Judge
Written by Editor   
Monday, December 31, 2018 05:13 PM

A federal judge ruled that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.  

It argues that because the tax reform bill passed by Congress -- the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 -- gets rid of the ACA's "individual mandate" penalty for not having health insurance, the requirement for individuals to have health insurance is void, and because of that, the rest of the law should be invalidated.

Judge Reed O'Connor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas agreed with the plaintiffs.  He reasoned that "the Supreme Court held the individual mandate was unconstitutional under the Interstate Commerce Clause but could fairly be read as an exercise of Congress's tax power because it triggered a tax.  "The TCJA eliminated that tax. The Supreme Court's reasoning in NFIB ... thus compels the conclusion that the individual mandate may no longer be upheld under the tax power. And because the individual mandate continues to mandate the purchase of health insurance, it remains unsustainable under the Interstate Commerce Clause -- as the Supreme Court already held."

"Congress stated many times unequivocally ... that the individual mandate is 'essential' to the ACA," he continued. And this essentiality, the ACA's text makes clear, means the mandate must work "together with the other provisions" for the Act to function as intended ... Because rewriting the ACA without its 'essential' feature is beyond the power of [this] court, the Court thus adheres to Congress's textually expressed intent and binding Supreme Court precedent to find the individual mandate is inseverable from the ACA's remaining provisions."

O'Connor did not grant the plaintiffs' request to immediately overturn the ACA. That means nothing will change between now and January 1, when, by law, the individual mandate is slated to end.  So what happens now? Well, nothing because there's no injunction, yet.  But various medical healthcare groups were quick to denounce the ruling as "an unfortunate step backward for our health system that is contrary to overwhelming public sentiment," said the American Medical Association (AMA) president.  Several major disease advocacy groups also blasted the ruling.