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Barack Obama

US federal judge rules Obamacare is unconstitutional

  • In a win for Donald Trump, predecessor’s controversial health care policy deemed invalid due to a change in tax laws
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 December, 2018, 11:02am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 December, 2018, 10:36pm

A US federal judge in Texas ruled on Friday that the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is unconstitutional, a decision that was likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court.

US District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth agreed with a coalition of 20 states that a change in tax law last year eliminating a penalty for not having health insurance invalidated the entire Obamacare law.

The news was celebrated by US President Donald Trump soon after it broke.

“As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been struck down as an UNCONSTITUTIONAL disaster!” he wrote on Twitter. “Now Congress must pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare and protects pre-existing conditions. Mitch and Nancy, get it done!”

For emphasis, he followed that up with a similar tweet minutes later, ending it with: “Great news for America!”

O’Connor’s decision was issued the day before the end of a 45-day sign-up period for 2019 health coverage under the law.

About 11.8 million people in the US enrolled in 2018 Obamacare exchange plans, according to the US government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The coalition of states challenging the law was led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, both Republicans.

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Republicans have opposed the 2010 law, the signature domestic policy achievement of Trump’s Democratic predecessor Barack Obama, since its inception and have repeatedly tried and failed to repeal it.

The White House hailed Friday’s ruling, but said the law would remain in place pending its expected appeal to the Supreme Court.

“Once again, the president calls on Congress to replace Obamacare ... and provide Americans with quality affordable health care,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

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In June, the Justice Department declared the health care law’s “individual mandate” unconstitutional in federal court. The decision was a break with a long-standing executive branch practice of defending existing statutes in court.

A year ago, Trump signed a US$1.5 trillion tax bill that included a provision eliminating the individual mandate.