We’ve been down this road before with relatively unsatisfactory results. Once before, the Affordable Care Act has been before the courts, particularly the Supreme Court, and at the time, the individual mandate of the act itself was NOT declared unconstitutional on its face, but a tax. Now, a lower court has ruled that the whole ACA, affectionately known as “Obamacare” for the man who signed this signature piece of legislation into law, should be thrown out.
“The Department of Justice has determined that the district court’s judgment should be affirmed,” three Justice Department lawyers wrote to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is now considering the case. “[T]he United States is not urging that any portion of the district court’s judgment be reversed.”
Regardless of the outcome, legal experts anticipate that the 5th Circuit’s ruling will be appealed to the Supreme Court. If the courts ultimately strike down Obamacare — over the objections of a group of Democrat-led states, which have spent more than a year defending the health law in court — the consequences could be substantial for patients, health care organizations and other groups that have adapted to the nine-year-old law.
It will be consequential for those who actually pay the health care bills as well, but no one seems to notice that. It’s the twenty-five-year-olds living in their parents’ basements and on their health insurance that we are told will be the hardest hit.
The case itself originated in Texas, and multiple other states have joined in their quest to have the law simply thrown out.
The GOP-led states that initially brought the lawsuit, Texas v. United States, had called for the entire law to be invalidated because Congress eliminated its individual insurance mandate penalty — an argument that swayed U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor, a George W. Bush appointee.
The Trump administration had previously argued that only elements of the ACA, like its protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, should be struck down but that other parts of the law could stand.
Some drug provisions championed by the Trump Administration would also be affected, but for now, it looks like a repeal of Obamacare might be back on the table.