UPDATE: The Justice Department has affirmed their support for the ruling. This means that this case will stand as it makes its way through the appeals process in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.
Here is the deal:
A group of 20 states with Republican governors and/or legislatures argued that the ACA’s individual mandate wasn’t constitutional since Congress removed the tax penalty for going without insurance.
The logic is the 2012 Supreme Court case that had attempted to prove the mandate was unconstitutional relied on the mandate’s fee to show the constitutionality of the ACA by showing that Congress has a right to tax.
However, without an effective mandate, the “the mandate is a tax; and Congress has the power to tax” argument falls apart.
With that said, not only did Texas U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor agree with the 20 states, he ruled that the entire ACA was unconstitutional (not just the mandate).
This doesn’t mean the ACA is repealed however. Instead, the decision is being appealed and it will likely lead to a lengthy legal battle (it could take months or even years).
For now, the ACA stands as is while a legal battle plays out (that means there is still assistance, still protections, still open enrollment, etc).
However, once the legal process concludes the result could be that the ACA ends.
- Federal judge rules Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, but appeal will leave coverage intact for now. USAToday.com.
- A federal judge has ruled the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. So now what happens? USAToday.com.