U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor, a Texas judge who was appointed by former President George W. Bush, ruled that last year's tax reform bill, which eliminated Obamacare's tax penalty for being uninsured, dismantled the law's constitutional foundation.
O'Connor ruled that under the logic of the landmark 2012 Supreme Court ruling that upheld the law, the individual mandate, which required that most Americans obtain health insurance or pay a tax, is now unconstitutional. Check back for updates.
He had led an effort to intervene the challenge of the health care law. Republicans who tried to undermine those safeguards during their failed effort to repeal the health law previous year were forced on the defensive and went on record saying they, too, want to make sure people with health problems can get coverage.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a statement saying: "We expect this ruling will be appealed to the Supreme Court".
The Affordable Care Act, which provides health insurance to millions of Americans, is on life support.
HealthCare.gov, the government's site for signing up, was taking applications Saturday, the deadline in most states for enrolling for coverage next year, and those benefits will take effect as scheduled January 1.
In June, the Justice Department declared the health care law's "individual mandate" unconstitutional in federal court. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a state where Trump is popular and whose conservative attorney general is one of the lawsuit plaintiffs, issued a statement attacking the ruling as "misguided and inhumane".
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O'Connor wrote that the "individual mandate is unconstitutional" and is "inseverable" from the rest of the Affordable Care Act, the sweeping 2010 healthcare law commonly called Obamacare. He urged maintaining provisions such as protections for pre-existing medical conditions, no lifetime dollar limits on insurance coverage, and allowing young adults to stay on parental coverage until age 26.
In his ruling, O'Connor reasoned that the body of the law could not be surgically separated from its now-meaningless requirement for people to have health insurance. Trump tweeted. He also called on Congress to pass health reform that would include protections for pre-existing conditions - one of the most prominent features of the ACA.
All these provisions meant millions of people with less-than-perfect health records could get comprehensive coverage. In Wisconsin, an incoming Democratic attorney general, Josh Kaul, campaigned on a promise to withdraw the state from the lawsut, but Wisconsin's Republican legislature and outgoing Gov. Scott Walker, R, have tried in a lameduck session to block his ability to do that.
Midnight Saturday is the deadline to sign up for 2019 plans via HealthCare.gov.
"The president has been 100 percent clear: He will not sign a repeal-and-replace package for Obamacare that does not adequately protect individuals who have preexisting conditions", Azar said.
In NFIB (2012 Supreme Court Obamacare decision), the Supreme Court held the Individual Mandate was unconstitutional under the Interstate Commerce Clause but could fairly be read as an exercise of Congress's Tax Power because it triggered a tax.