Obamacare is unconstitutional, judge rules
A federal judge in the state of Texas in the United States (US) has ruled that the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, is unconstitutional.
Despite the ruling, however, the White House has announced that the law will remain in place until an appeal is heard by the US Supreme Court.
The ACA was signed into law by former US President Barack Obama in 2010 to provide affordable health care to all Americans.
Since it's enactment over 20 million people have gained health insurance coverage.
Federal Judge Reed O’Connor, in his decision that came a day before today’s deadline for Obamacare enrolment for next year, found that a US$1.5 trillion bill passed by Congress last year eliminated the tax penalties for individuals who failed to obtain health insurance.
As a result, he ruled that the individual mandate is unconstitutional.
“As the individual mandate was an essential element of the ACA, the whole of Obamacare was therefore unconstitutional,” O'Connor said.
He explained that his ruling was concerned with the intentions of the 2010 and 2017 Congresses.
"The former enacted the ACA. The latter sawed off the last leg it stood on,” he reasoned.
One legal expert, who supports the ACA, has warned that O’Connor’s ruling would have repercussions for nearly all Americans if it stands.
The attorney argued that if the entire health law is invalidated, popular provisions that benefit Medicare beneficiaries and people with employer coverage would also be scrapped.
US President Donald Trump, who has vowed to dismantle his predecessor’s landmark legislation, described the ruling as great news for America.
However, incoming Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted the ruling as "cruel" and "absurd" and said it would be repealed.
Pelosi said the ruling exposed "the monstrous endgame of Republicans' all-out assault on people with pre-existing conditions and Americans' access to affordable health care".