Saturday, 19 January, 2019

Senators speak out on Obamacare ruling

U.S. judge finds obamacare unconstitutional Obamacare is unconstitutional, judge rules | News
Ben Pena | 17 December, 2018, 15:57

A federal judge in Texas declared the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional on Friday.

Republican party officials say the ruling paves the way to a full repeal of Obamacare while democrats are hoping to save the policy.

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer condemned the "awful" ruling and vowed congressional action as soon as possible for an "intervention". Under conditions in which 51 million U.S. households can not afford a "survival budget" to pay for basic necessities like housing, food and healthcare, they have offered only a limited challenge to the White House drive to impose work requirements in the food stamp and Medicaid programs, and to slash housing subsidies.

The ACA was signed into law by former US President Barack Obama in 2010 to provide affordable health care to all Americans. Donald Trump made abolishing and replacing the program a central pledge of his presidential campaign. The legitimacy of that fee was part of the Supreme Court's justification for upholding the law in a previous challenge.

In a 55-page opinion, US District Judge Reed O'Connor ruled on yesterday that last year's tax cut bill knocked the constitutional foundation from under "Obamacare" by eliminating a penalty for not having coverage.

Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) says she believes the judge's ruling is too sweeping and expects it to be overturned, but the republican added the decision would not effect those now enrolled, and added the individual mandate is the real issue, and faces widespread opposition.

"Wow, but not surprisingly, ObamaCare was just ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL by a highly respected judge in Texas". Trump wrote on Twitter.

"As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been struck down as an UNCONSTITUTIONAL disaster!"

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He was referring to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, and Representative Nancy Pelosi, who will likely become speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives when the Democrats take control of the chamber in January.

The ruling came a day before the deadline for open enrollment in the program commonly known as Obamacare in all of the states participating in the ACA's marketplaces, except California.

Angry Democrats blamed Republicans for what they see as a debacle that could leave millions of Americans without health care. Numerous high-ranking Republican lawmakers have said they did not intend to also strike down popular provisions such as protection for people with pre-existing medical conditions when they repealed the ACA's fines for people who can afford coverage but remain uninsured. "So they've continued their crusade through the courts", tweeted Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, a consumer-protection activist. The law also protects people with pre-existing conditions and allows people up to age 26 to be covered under their parents' insurance; requires calorie counts at restaurants and gives protections to lactating mothers.

"This outrageous ruling threatens health coverage for millions of Americans ..." And Healthy Michigan that covers one million Michiganders would be gone! "And they call that success", Democratic congressman Joe Kennedy wrote on the social media site.

Timothy Jost, a health law expert and emeritus professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law in Virginia, said it was "silly" and "irresponsible" for O'Connor to find that the individual mandate could not be separated from the rest of the ACA.

Most likely, the (for some) nightmare before Christmas case will not have immediate effect and will be appealed to the Supreme Court, making it the third case challenging the constitutionality of the ACA to reach the Supreme Court. "Today's misguided ruling will not deter us: our coalition will continue to fight in court for the health and wellbeing of all Americans", said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who is leading a coalition of states defending the ACA.

The Affordable Care Act runs for more than 1,000 pages and includes many provisions - the exchanges for individuals that are frequently political footballs - and a long list of other measures and protections created to expand insurance coverage.

- The requirement that insurers must take all applicants for comprehensive coverage regardless of prior health history, including pre-existing conditions. "Our fight to save Obamacare is far from over", he tweeted.

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