On Friday, a federal judge in the Lone Star State decided that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.
In deciding to wreak this destruction on the American health care system, Judge O'Connor arrogated to himself authority that rightly belongs with Congress.
"We expect the withdrawal of federal funding flows would have an incrementally negative impact on regional economies, which are already poised to see economic deceleration as the effects of the fiscal stimulus from the tax cuts begins to fade", S&P said.
The Health & Human Services Department issued a statement Monday saying, "The recent U.S. District Court decision regarding the Affordable Care Act is not an injunction that halts the enforcement of the law and not a final judgment". "In our view, the demise of the ACA would become the number one issue in the 2020 presidential election", it said. On top of that, they said if the mandate is struck down, the entire law should be nullified because the provision is so vital. O'Connor only found two individuals had standing to challenge the law, so arguably the ruling only applies to them. The court did not issue an injunction, and the Trump administration has asserted that it will continue to enforce the terms of the ACA pending appeal, notwithstanding its vocal opposition to the law.
Where Roberts might fall this time is anybody's guess - as the case before the lower courts strikes at the heart of his rationale for upholding the law's individual mandate. He's right that Democrats claimed the individual mandate was essential to the Affordable Care Act. "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.
"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.
But some experts noted that when Congress passed the ACA in 2010, lawmakers acknowledged that the requirement that insurers provided coverage for pre-existing medical conditions had to be paired with the mandate in order to work. The selloff is occurring although the judge's decision will be appealed and won't affect Americans who signed up for 2019 health coverage.
The GOP's struggle to unify around a policy was on full display on Capitol Hill a year ago when there wasn't enough consensus among Senate Republicans to pass a narrowly-crafted Obamacare repeal bill, despite the fact that congressional Republicans had rallied around calls to repeal the law during President Barack Obama's administration.
In Friday's decision, O'Connor said that because Congress lowered the penalty to zero past year, the mandate no longer came with a "tax" and is unconstitutional.
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.