U.S. Appeals Court to Take Up Constitutionality of Obamacare

Mike Blake/Reuters

The future of Obamacare could be at stake on Tuesday when a coalition of Democratic-led states and House of Representatives urge a federal appeals court to overturn a Texas judge’s ruling that the U.S. healthcare reform law is unconstitutional.

Republicans have repeatedly tried to repeal Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act (ACA), since its 2010 passage, and while the Justice Department would normally defend a federal law, the Trump administration has declined to defend its constitutionality against a challenge by 18 Republican-led states.

A coalition of Democratic state attorneys general led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra stepped into the void to defend the law. The House intervened after Democrats won control in November’s elections after many focused their campaigns on defending Obamacare.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, including two judges appointed by Republican presidents and one by a Democrat, will take up a ruling by a federal judge in Texas last year that the entire ACA was unconstitutional.

An appellate ruling declaring Obamacare unconstitutional could prompt an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, opening the door for the top court to take up the issue in the midst of the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

Obamacare, the signature domestic achievement of Trump’s Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, has been a political flashpoint since its passage.

Republican opponents call the law an unwarranted intervention by government in health insurance markets, while supporters say that striking it down would put at risk the healthcare of 20 million people who have gained insurance since its enactment.

In 2012, a divided U.S. Supreme Court upheld most its provisions, including the individual mandate, which requires people to obtain insurance or pay a penalty.

The mandate compelled healthy people to buy insurance to offset sicker patients’ costs after Obamacare barred insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority argued that Congress could not constitutionally order people to buy insurance. But Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four liberal members to hold the mandate was a valid exercise of Congress’ tax power.

Republicans in Congress subsequently failed to overturn Obamacare, but in December 2017, Trump signed into law a tax bill passed by a Republican-led Congress that reduced the tax penalty to zero dollars.

A coalition of Republican-led states headed by Texas sued, alleging the tax penalty’s elimination rendered Obamacare unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth, Texas, agreed in December 2018, saying the individual mandate was unconstitutional because it no longer triggered a tax.

O’Connor, nominated by former Republican President George W. Bush, said that because Obamacare called the mandate “essential,” the entire law must be struck down.

The Justice Department initially argued the mandate was unconstitutional but most of Obamacare could be severed from it. But it argues on appeal the law’s balance must be struck down.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond; Editing by Scott Malone and Jeffrey Benkoe)

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Sherri
Member

They need to read the freaking constitution! Show me where it says we will socialize medicine and force those that can’t afford the crappy insurance Obama shoved down our throats when we were happy with our doctors (that we no longer have) and happy with our insurance (that we no longer have and can’t afford his garbage) to pay fines. Notice how Obama baby stepped those fines? Ya, to fool everyone the first couple of years. They know once in it would be hard to get rid of…..Thanks traitor McCain.

Jeffrey Moore
Member

Obamacare was rammed through by only Democrats and in the shadiest possible way. It made health care much more expensive for most Americans.

In 2016, the Republican candidates ran on “repeal,” not “repeal and replace” like they told us after they got elected.

Obamacare, like all federal health care laws, needs to be declared unconstitutional because the Constitution does not allow Congress to regulate or control health care, nor is health care part of interstate commerce.

Health care should be governed by the free market. But if states want to control it, they can each make their own laws.

Rodney W Orr
Guest
Rodney W Orr

Yes it was un Constitutional!!!!! We went to war with England about being taxed without being represented, and won our Independence from them!!! If you didn’t get on board with the elephant ears program you were fined out of your tax returns!! But like most dim wits and thinkers of the same, that was just part of the lie that you “CAN KEEP YOUR PLAN AND KEEP YOUR DOCTOR”!!!!!!!! I would like to see the government rewrite the laws for Medicare, and instead of telling me what they don’t cover, please tell what is covered!!!!!!!

Chris
Guest
Chris

Where in the constitution does it say health care is a “right”? The federal government has no business in dealing with health care.

Patti Harrison
Member

Because Obamacare is rationing healthcare, like Britain!

paul
Guest
paul

Right , after all of the damage has been done to taxpayers whom have no stake what so ever in this lying government charade.Welcome to DC.

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