Appeals court says Obamacare individual mandate unconstitutional and sends law back to lower court
Dec 18, 2019
CNN – A federal appeals court has found the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate unconstitutional but did not invalidate the entire law, which remains in effect.
The 2-1 decision by the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals likely pushes any Supreme Court action on Obamacare until after the 2020 election but again thrusts the issue of health care into the forefront of the campaign — and extends the uncertainty surrounding the future of the landmark law, long a political target for President Donald Trump and other Republicans.
The challenge was brought by Texas and a coalition of Republican states after a failed 2017 congressional repeal effort, then later joined by the Trump administration — which, in a dramatic reversal from its earlier position, argued the entire law should be thrown out. “Let the courts do their job,” Attorney General William Barr told Congress earlier this year.
The ruling should not affect the millions of Americans who signed up for 2020 coverage on the exchanges in recent weeks.
Nearly 3.9 million people had selected policies through December 7, but millions more signed up or were automatically re-enrolled in policies through the end of open enrollment, which finished early Wednesday morning in most states. Protections for those with preexisting conditions — one of the law’s most popular provisions — remain in effect.
The court case is part of what once was considered a long-shot attempt to gut the Affordable Care Act. But two courts have now sided with the argument that a key part of Obamacare — the individual mandate requiring Americans to purchase health insurance — is no longer constitutional.
“The most straightforward reading applies: the mandate is a command. Using that meaning, the individual mandate is unconstitutional,” Wednesday’s ruling states … Read more.
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