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Texas Federal District Court Imperils the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

US Dist. Judge Reed O'Connor says 2017 tax law ended the penalty for not having insurance
Cheryl Cheatham  /  Tuesday, December 18, 2018  /  Categories: Just in Case  /  Rate this article:
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Julie Rovner, reporting for KHN, points out the points out the issue  before U.S. Dist Judge Reed O'Connor in the case Tex. v. United States (2018 U.S. Dist. Lexis 211547).  Judge O'Connor determined that the tax bill passed by Congress last December [2017] effectively rendered the entire health law unconstitutional and that the tax measure eliminated the penalty for not having insurance. An earlier Supreme Court decision [2010] upheld the Affordable Care Act based on the view that the penalty was a tax and thus the law was valid because it relied on appropriate power allowed Congress under the Constitution. O'Connor's decision concluded that without the penalty, the law no longer met that constitutional test."

Rovner summed up the current situation as follows:   "It is all but certain the case will become the third time the Supreme Court decides a constitutional question related to the ACA.  In addition to upholding the law in 2012, the court rejected another challenge to the law in 2015.  It is hard to overstate what would happen to the nation's health care system if the decision is ultimately upheld.  The Affordable Care Act touched almost every aspect of health care, from Medicare and Medicaid to generic biologic drugs, the Indian Health Service, and public health changes like calorie counts on menus."

Judge O'Connor's decision was released hours before the end of open enrollment for plans in most states that use the federal healthcare.gov insurance exchange.

"The 16 Democratic state attorneys general who intervened in the case to defend the health law immediately vowed to appeal. . . The 16 Democratic state attorneys general who intervened in the case to defend the health law immediately vowed to appeal. . . It is all but certain the case will become the third time the Supreme Court decides a constitutional question related to the ACA. . . It is hard to overstate what would happen to the nation's health care system if the decision is ultimately upheld. The Affordable Care Act touched almost every aspect of health care, from Medicare & Medicaid to generic biologic drugs, the Indian Health Service, and public health changes like calorie counts on menus."

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