Obamacare Ruling Unleashes Political, Legal, Social Chaos

‘In light of ambiguity,’ states want judge to clarify whether health law ruling has any immediate legal effect

Kaiser Health News – In their filing to U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and other Democratic attorneys general also asked for permission to immediately appeal’s his decision that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.

For its part, HHS says that since O’Connor had not issued a final judgment or an injunction, the department “will continue administering and enforcing all aspects of the ACA as it had before the court issued its decision.”

Meanwhile, Democrats prepare to act to protect the law as soon as they take the majority in the House next month. Obamacare Ruled Unconstitutional

The New York Times: States Ask Judge To Declare Health Law Still In Effect While Ruling Is Appealed

California and 15 other states asked a federal judge on Monday to protect current health care coverage for millions of Americans while courts sort out the implications of his ruling that the Affordable Care Act was invalid in its entirety.

The states, which support the health care law, said the ruling on Friday, by Judge Reed O’Connor of the Federal District Court in Fort Worth, had caused immense confusion about whether the law was still in effect, and whether consumers were still entitled to its benefits and protections.

The states asked Judge O’Connor to clarify whether he meant his decision to have “any immediate legal effect.” (Pear, 12/17)

Boston Globe: 18 States, Including Massachusetts, File Motion To Challenge Ruling Striking Down Affordable Care Act

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and her counterparts in 17 other states filed a motion Monday challenging a Texas federal judge’s ruling last week that struck down the Affordable Care Act. …

“Millions of Americans who rely on the protections of the Affordable Care Act have been left confused and uncertain about the future of their health care coverage,” Healey said. “We are urging the court to clarify its ruling to avoid massive disruption in the healthcare market.” (Cote, 12/18)

The Wall Street Journal: States Ask For Clarity On Judge’s Ruling On Affordable Care Act

The states filed a motion that asks U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Texas to either clarify his ruling or grant a stay of his decision during litigation. The states also asked for permission to appeal it right away.

The judge cast a cloud over the ACA’s future in a sweeping ruling that declared the ACA unconstitutional without a penalty on people forgoing health coverage. Congressional Republicans have eliminated the penalty starting for next year.

Because the insurance mandate was central to the law, the whole law must be invalidated, the judge ruled. (Armour, 12/17)

The Hill: Dem AGs Begin Process Of Appealing Court Ruling That Struck Down ObamaCare

The state officials noted in their filing Monday that O’Connor’s opinion created confusion about whether ObamaCare will be unenforceable once the repeal of the individual mandate takes effect Jan. 1.

They also asked that he certify his opinion so it can be appealed to the Fifth Circuit. They asked for a response by Friday.

“The district court’s ruling poses a dangerous threat to the healthcare of millions of Americans. We’re asking the court to make clear that the ACA is still the law and ensure that all Americans can continue to access affordable healthcare under it,” Becerra said in a statement. (Hellmann, 12/17)

Modern Healthcare: Obamacare’s Uncertain Fate Leaves Congress, Industry Lying In Wait

Although the effective elimination of the individual mandate penalty starts Jan. 1—before the filing deadline—HHS and the White House say the law will remain in place since O’Connor did not grant an injunction.

“This decision does not require that HHS make any changes to any of the ACA programs it administers or its enforcement of any portion of the ACA at this time,” HHS said Monday. (Luthi, 12/17)

The Hill: Incoming Dem Chairman Vows Hearings On ObamaCare Lawsuit ‘Right Away’

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), the next chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, vowed Monday to hold oversight hearings “right away” on the Trump administration’s involvement in a court case over the weekend that ruled that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often called ObamaCare, was unconstitutional.

Pallone will take over the chairmanship of the panel when Democrats assume the House majority next year. He said they will “get to the bottom” of the administration’s decision not to defend the health-care law against a lawsuit filed by Republican attorneys general. (Hellmann, 12/17)

Bloomberg: House Democrats Are Said To Plan Joining Obamacare Legal Fight 

In the 2018 election, polls showed health care ranked as the single most important issue to voters. Democrats across the country highlighted the GOP’s attempts to do away with Obamacare’s consumer protections, and it paid dividends as the party won 40 House seats.

It wouldn’t be the first time the House has gotten formally involved in a lawsuit or other legal action involving Obamacare. Republicans previously used their majority control to make legal attacks on aspects of the 2010 health-care law. (House, 12/17)

Kaiser Health News: What Just Happened To The ACA And What Happens Now? A Special Bonus Edition

Federal District Judge Reed O’Connor again thrust the Affordable Care Act into uncertainty with his ruling Friday that eliminating the tax penalty for not having insurance renders the entire law unconstitutional.

The panelists for this special bonus episode of KHN’s “What the Health?” are Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News, Joanne Kenen of Politico, Stephanie Armour of The Wall Street Journal and Paige Winfield Cunningham of The Washington Post. (12/17)

Kaiser Health News: Watch And Listen: Court Decision Rocks ACA

Julie Rovner, KHN’s chief Washington correspondent, was featured on NPR’s “Up First” podcast Monday morning to discuss a federal judge’s ruling late Friday invalidating the Affordable Care Act. She also joined NPR’s Michel Martin on Saturday on “All Things Considered” to talk about the case. (12/17)

Boston Globe: Mass. ‘Not Immune’ To Ripple Effect Of Health Care Law Ruling

A Texas judge’s ruling late last week to throw out the Affordable Care Act could have far-reaching consequences, threatening health coverage for millions and insurance markets nationwide — even in Massachusetts, which has its own universal health care law.

The Massachusetts law, which went into effect more than a decade ago, has bipartisan support and was the model for the sweeping federal health care overhaul approved under President Obama in 2010. (Dayal McCluskey, 12/18)

New Orleans Times-Picayune: After Obamacare Ruling, Louisiana Officials Want Pre-Existing Health Conditions Covered

Three days after a Texas judge ruled President Barack Obama’s signature federal health care law unconstitutional, state leaders are assessing their next move pending the likely appeal of the decision.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, one of 20 attorneys general seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act, reiterated that he will back state legislation requiring health insurance companies cover people with pre-existing medical conditions if a lawsuit that he’s bringing strikes down the law’s current mandate for such coverage. (O’Donoghue, 12/17)

The Baltimore Sun: Here’s How Many People Enrolled In Health Insurance Through Maryland’s Marketplace 

Nearly 157,000 Marylanders enrolled in health insurance through the state’s insurance marketplace for 2019, according to the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange.

During the open enrollment period from Nov. 1-Dec. 15, 156,963 Marylanders enrolled in health insurance through Maryland Health Connection, marking a 2 percent increase from the 153,571 people that signed up for health insurance through the state’s exchange last year. (Meehan, 12/17)