Fox News reported that a federal appeals court upheld a lower court’s decision to declare one key part of Obamacare as unconstitutional.
This decision will more than likely set up another showdown with the Supreme Court during the presidential election in 2020.
On a 2-1 vote, the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals came to the conclusion that the original law’s principal funding mechanism — the individual mandate — was eliminated in a proper fashion by Congress, thus making the entire law unenforceable. This mandate would require most Americans to purchase health insurance or face a tax penalty.
The appeals panel kicked the issue back to the lower court to determine if other aspects of the Affordable Care Act must be scrapped.
The panel of three judges in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans was in agreement with Texas-based U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor’s conclusion that the insurance requirement became unconstitutional in 2017, when Congress eliminated a tax penalty on people who don’t have insurance.
“The individual mandate is unconstitutional because it can no longer be read as a tax, and there is no other constitutional provision that justifies this exercise of congressional power,” the ruling declared. “On the severability question, we remand to the district court to provide additional analysis of the provisions of the ACA as they currently exist.”
The appeals court argued that because the individual mandate was unconstitutional, the law’s funding mechanism was unenforceable in the current iteration of the Affordable Care Act.
Other parts of the law may stay in place, but the appeals court is now letting the lower court decide on the severability question. In other words, the lower court will determine if the entire law must be scrapped or if certain parts of the law will remain intact.
This represents a considerable blow to one of the legislative hallmarks of the presidency of Barack Obama.
There is still much work to be done on the healthcare front.
Ideally, Obamacare would be repealed, and lawmakers would find ways to get the government out of healthcare altogether.
However, this process will likely be very drawn out.
So, any victory like the one in the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals is very welcome.
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