Federal judge strikes down Obamacare as unconstitutional, Trump praises decision

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Shares of USA health insurers, hospitals and healthcare companies fell on Monday in the aftermath of a ruling by a federal judge in Texas that the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly called Obamacare, was unconstitutional.

His ruling, in Texas v. U.S., was a victory for the 20 Republican state attorneys general and governors who had brought the case in February, asking the court to block operation of the health care law.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: "We expect this ruling will be appealed to the Supreme Court".

The surprise decision Friday already has both sides of the debate posturing, with Democrats claiming the ruling is but a hiccup and Republicans suggesting this could be their chance, at last, to abolish the law - which remains largely in place despite President Trump's past claims to the contrary.

Dr. Ezekial Emanuel, who also developed Obamacare, is calling the ruling "silly" and is confident it will be upheld for a second time at the Supreme Court.

Gov-elect Janet Mills reminds Mainers that the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land. Associated Press  Robert F. Bukaty
Gov-elect Janet Mills reminds Mainers that the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land. Associated Press Robert F. Bukaty

As former President Barack Obama noted on Facebook after Friday's ruling, "Republicans will never stop trying to undo" the health care law. An earlier appellate court decision, involving a number of the states in this case, invalidated the individual mandate but held the entire remainder of the ACA to be valid. O'Connor only found two individuals had standing to challenge the law, so arguably the ruling only applies to them. That latter group will also include many Republicans who campaigned on the promise to protect people with pre-existing conditions and could face political consequences if they renege on that.

"In the near term, if the ruling were upheld, the loss of ACA-driven health insurance would eliminate the expanded Medicaid coverage that the ACA provided and hurt the individual market for health insurance that has helped millions of Americans", S&P said. The law still works without it. Congress in its wisdom has declared that it's severable, has said, look, we're going to keep the law but remove the mandate penalty.

"This ruling would have been bad for Republicans if they still controlled the House, but because they don't, they have the opportunity to sit back and focus on message and really this has the potential to give Republicans second life on this issue", GOP strategist Ford O'Connell said. "Today's misguided ruling will not deter us: our coalition will continue to fight in court for the health and well-being of all Americans", said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who is leading a coalition of states defending the ACA. "Pending the appeal process, the law remains in place". But with that "tax" - or penalty - having been removed starting next year, Republicans challenging the law in this case argued the program is now illegal. "Now Congress must pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare and protects pre-existing conditions".

Without an immediate legal basis for the defendants to appeal, the judicial review process could result in a prolonged period of uncertainty for healthcare industry players and policymakers alike, even if the ACA is ultimately upheld again in part or whole, whether by the Fifth Circuit or Supreme Court.

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