In a 55-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that last year’s tax cut bill knocked the constitutional foundation from under “Obamacare” by eliminating a penalty for not having coverage. The rest of the law cannot be separated from that provision and is therefore invalid, he wrote.
Supporters of the law immediately said they would appeal. “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 White House applauded O’Connor’s ruling, but said the law remains in place while appeals proceed. President Donald Trump tweeted that Congress should pass a new law.
“As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been struck down as an UNCONSTITUTIONAL disaster!” Trump tweeted. “Now Congress must pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare and protects pre-existing conditions.”
However, Congress is unlikely to act while the case remains in the courts. 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to also strike down popular provisions such as protection for people with pre-existing medical conditions when they repealed the ACA’s fines for people who can afford coverage but remain uninsured.