Federal judge in Texas strikes down Affordable Care Act

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 26: Demonstrators hold signs as Democratic leaders speak with reporters outside the U.S. Capitol June 26, 2018 in Washington, DC. Democrats are calling on the administration to change its policy regarding the pre-existing conditions provisions of the Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
You think 2018 was the healthcare election? Just wait until 2020.

Thanks Trump and Republicans, for giving us the 2020 election. The “intensely political” federal judge in Texas has ruled with Republican states and the Trump administration and struck down the Affordable Care Act.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth agreed with a coalition of Republican states led by Texas that he had to eviscerate the Affordable Care Act, the signature health-care overhaul by President Barack Obama, after Congress last year zeroed out a key provision — the tax penalty for not complying with the requirement to buy insurance. The decision is almost certain to be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.

Texas and an alliance of 19 states argued to the judge that they’ve been harmed by an increase in the number of people on state-supported insurance rolls. They claimed that when Congress repealed the tax penalty last year, it eliminated the U.S. Supreme Court’s rationale for finding the ACA constitutional in 2012.

This is the entire law being struck down, not just “guaranteed issue and community rating. In the court’s view–and this is *absolutely* insane,” says ACA legal expert Nicholas Bagely,”—the entire Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.” That includes protections for people with pre-existing conditions, women being charged more because they’re women, the return of annual and lifetime caps on insurance payouts, everything.

Never mind that all serious legal scholars declared the challenge “absurd” and “ludicrous.” The intensely partisan judge in Texas, a George W. Bush appointee who previously gutted parts of Title IX and ruled that ACA provisions prohibiting sex discrimination were a violation of religious freedom, apparently decided to throw previous court doctrine out the window. Now Trump (and Susan Collins) will find out if their new U.S Supreme Court is willing to be as radical. It will likely result in House Democrats taking on the defense of the law in appeal.

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