US Judge Rules Obama's Signature Health Care Policy Unconstitutional

An open enrollment page on the

In a significant ruling Friday, a federal judge in Texas declared the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, to be unconstitutional in its entirety, citing a key change in the law implemented by Republicans in their big tax reform bill a year ago.

US District Judge Reed O'Connor sided with a coalition of state governments, led by Texas, that argued removing the "individual mandate" previous year - a provision included in Trump's tax bill - invalidated the entire law.

The decision is a huge swipe at the 2010 health law and sets the stage for a bigger fight in appeals courts.

Twenty Republican-led states, including Kansas, brought the lawsuit.

The decision also comes one day before the open enrollment deadline.

Judge Reed O'Connor agreed with them, declaring the mandate and Obamacare "inseverable and therefore invalid".

'The Individual Mandate can no longer be fairly read as an exercise of Congress's Tax Power and is still impermissible under the Interstate Commerce Clause - meaning the Individual Mandate is unconstitutional, ' the judge wrote.

A spokesperson for California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said defendant states will appeal the decision.

The case is the most high-profile legal challenge to "Obamacare" under President Donald Trump.

The future of the Affordable Care Act might be hanging in the balance thanks to a federal judge in Texas, but Obamacare coverage isn't over just yet. They contended that overturning the law would throw millions off health insurance rolls by reversing Medicaid expansion, ending tax credits that help people and empowering insurers to once again deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

"The Court finds the Individual Mandate "is essential to" and inserverable from "the other provisions" of the ACA", O'Connor wrote in his ruling, as Vox reported.

While O'Connor's ruling marks an uncertain moment for the millions of people who rely on Obamacare for health insurance coverage, it won't immediately take effect. The court case argued that all of the pieces of the law were dependent upon each other, so by eliminating the penalty the rest of the law fell apart.

In Texas alone, there are more than 4.5 million "nonelderly adults" with pre-existing conditions that could make it hard for them to get health insurance if Obamacare went away, statistics show. "Pending the appeal process, the law remains in place". California and other states had intervened to defend the 2010 health care law after the Trump administration declined to defend its provisions that guarantee coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, arguing that those provisions can not be separated from the mandate.

The ACA can only stand as it was originally designed by Congress, O'Connor added, saying that lawmakers needed to have the penalty to force people to sign up for exchange insurance.

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