The fate of the Affordable Care Act was thrown back into limbo after a federal appeals court found a key piece of the original law unconstitutional, then kicked the case back to the judge who struck it down a year ago.
Final resolution on whether former President
U.S. District Judge
By leaving the law in limbo, the appeals court’s decision will stoke further political debate. On one side is a Texas-led coalition of mostly Republican states and the Trump administration fighting to kill Obamacare. On the other is a band of mostly Democrat-led states and the
President Donald Trump said it’s a “win for all Americans” that the court struck down the Obamacare requirement that people buy insurance even if they don’t want it. Trump also took the opportunity to play to his conservative base and blast the “radical left” health-care policies of Democratic presidential contenders, saying their proposals “would strip Americans of their current coverage.”
Health scholars who support Obamacare say the writing is on the wall for the next ruling from O’Connor, a former prosecutor and aide to Republican senators who was appointed to the bench by former President
“He’s going to say very substantial parts of the Affordable Care Act are invalid,” said
In its ruling, the panel instructed O’Connor to review the law with a “finer-tooth comb” and address the Trump administration’s suggestion that only some Obamacare elements that actually harmed the states should be thrown out, or that the ACA should be blocked only in the states that challenged the law.
Critics of Trump’s piecemeal proposal point out it would lead to a hodgepodge of different health-care plans and inconsistent coverage state by state, effectively throwing the multibillion-dollar U.S. health care industry into chaos.
Wednesday’s majority opinion was written by U.S. Circuit Judge
In a dissenting opinion, U.S. Circuit Judge
She said the court “merely identifies serious flaws in the district court’s analysis” and sends the case back for a “do-over, which will unnecessarily prolong this litigation and the concomitant uncertainty over the future of the healthcare sector.”
The case is Texas v. U.S., 19-10011, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (New Orleans).
(Updates with comments by political leaders)
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