On Wednesday, a panel of the US courts of appeals in New Orleans had to deal with another blow to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
The panel members agreed with a lower-court judge that the portion of Obamacare, which requires most people to have coverage, is unconstitutional now that Congress has ruled out the tax penalty, which was intended to enforce it.
The fate of the health law does not seem to get settled prior to the 2020 election. The case has widely been expected to end up at the Supreme Court.
Cal. Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who is defending the health law, said that he would appeal to the high court immediately.
The high court has upheld Obamacare twice since it was passed in 2010. And if the high court agrees with the appeals court, the decision could upset the entire US health care system.
Becerra told reporters, “It’s time to get rid of the uncertainty. Americans don’t need to be jerked around when it comes to their health care.”
The health coverage for more than 20 million Americans directly served by the Obamacare is uncertain.
Also, hanging in the balance is the health coverage of hundreds of millions affected by the thousands of changes in the ACA, such as “Medicare drug copayments, requirements for calorie counts on menus, a pathway for approval of generic copies of expensive biologic drugs and, perhaps most important politically, protections for people with preexisting conditions.”
President Trump publicly announced the court’s decision, stating that he has long asserted “that the individual mandate, by far the worst element of Obamacare, is unconstitutional.”
He said, “Overturning the mandate will not alter the current health care system.” He said his administration would work to protect health coverage for people with medical conditions. However, he did not give any specific details of how that would work.
Democrats were angry at the decision. Sen. Chuck Schumer said, “Tonight’s ruling is a sharp reminder to Americans that a heartless lawsuit supported by Congressional Republicans and President Trump is why vital health care protection, especially protections for people with pre-existing conditions, are in grave danger.” On the other hand, conservatives were pleased with the decision. Marie Fishpaw of the conservative Heritage Foundation said, “Today’s decision reminds us that Obamacare has been on shaky ground since its creation. Patients deserve better than the high costs, limited choices and narrow provider networks that Obamacare brought to the health care system.”