Obamacare: Texas court rules key health law is unconstitutional

People sign up for health insurance in Miami, Florida. 1 November 2017

A federal judge in the US state of Texas has ruled that a key part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, is unconstitutional.

Twenty states argued the whole law was invalidated by a change in tax rules last year which eliminated a penalty for not having health insurance.

President Donald Trump said the ruling was great news for America.

The law’s provisions will, however, remain in place until an appeal is heard at the US Supreme Court.

President Trump promised to dismantle Barack Obama’s landmark 2010 healthcarelaw, which was designed to make medical cover affordable for the many Americans who had been priced out of the market.

But despite his Republican Party having majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the ACA is still operating.

However, in 2017 Congress did repeal the requirement – the so-called individual mandate – that people buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty.

Mr Trump took to Twitter following the judge’s ruling in Texas.

He also urged incoming Democratic Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to “pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare”.

The ruling came a day before the deadline for Obamacare enrolment for the coming year.

What does the ruling say?

Two Republicans – Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and his Wisconsin counterpart Brad Schimel led the legal challenge.

Sitting in Fort Worth, US District Judge Reed O’Connor noted that a $1.5tn tax bill passed by Congress in 2017 eliminated the tax penalties which anyone who failed to obtain health insurance had to pay.

He ruled that the individual mandate was now unconstitutional.

As the individual mandate was an “essential” element of the ACA, the whole of Obamacare was therefore unconstitutional, Judge O’Connor said.

He said his ruling was concerned with the intentions of the 2010 and 2017 Congresses.

“The former enacted the ACA. The latter sawed off the last leg it stood on.”

Protesters hold a small peaceful demonstration in support of health care on September 23, 2017 in Livingston, MontanaHealth care provision in the US has long been a divisive issue

What reaction has there been?

Ms Pelosi described the ruling as “cruel” and “absurd” and said it would be repealed.

She said it exposed “the monstrous endgame of Republicans’ all-out assault on people with pre-existing conditions and Americans’ access to affordable health care”.

Mr Schumer, meanwhile, said the ruling appeared “to be based on faulty legal reasoning and hopefully it will be overturned”.

He said that if it was upheld in the higher courts “it will be a disaster for tens of millions of American families, especially for people with pre-existing conditions”.

What comes next?

The decision is almost certain to be challenged in the US Supreme Court.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said that the law would remain in place for the time being, pending further legal developments.

‘Trump not thinking about the little people’

Meanwhile, the White House called on Congress to replace Obamacare with an affordable healthcare system which protects people with pre-existing conditions.

But other states have argued that eliminating Obamacare would harm millions of Americans, and pending any appeal the landmark health care law remains in place.

US Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said: “If this awful ruling is upheld in the higher courts, it will be a disaster for tens of millions of American families.”

[If you take much more from us we’ll have to take all of you down.]

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New version of health care bill will help Alaska, Maine — home of two holdout senators

 

WASHINGTON — The Republican senators at the forefront of the latest effort to undo the Affordable Care Act plan to release a revised version of their bill Monday sending more health care dollars to the states of key holdouts, as hardening resistance from several GOP senators left their proposal on the verge of collapse.

According to a summary obtained by The Washington Post, Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, will propose giving Alaska and Maine get more funding than initially offered. Those states are represented by Republican senators Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, and Susan CollinsMaine, who have expressed concerns about the bill but have yet to say how they would vote.

The Cassidy-Graham legislation would overhaul the ACA by lumping together the current law’s spending on insurance subsidies and expanded Medicaid and redistributing it to states in the form of block grants. Alaska would get 3 percent more funding between 2020 and 2026 than under current law, and Maine would get 43 percent more funding during that time period, according to a summary obtained by The Post.

Why we all love Senator John McCain

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On Capitol Hill, Republican lawmakers are scrambling to save their latest effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, after it looks like they will again fail to secure enough votes to pass the legislation. On Friday, Republican Arizona Senator John McCain announced he will not support the Graham-Cassidy bill. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul also opposes the legislation, and Maine Senator Susan Collins, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski and Texas Senator Ted Cruz have all indicated they may vote against the bill. Top Republicans have revised the legislation to add additional benefits for Alaska and Maine in efforts to woo Senators Murkowski’s and Collins’s votes.

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Health groups condemn new Republican Obamacare repeal plan

Chuck Schumer with protesters in WashingtonImage copyrightEUROPEAN PHOTOPRESS AGENCY
Image captionDemocrats have rallied against the bill

Sixteen patient and provider groups have opposed the latest healthcare plan put forward by Republican senators as a replacement for Obamacare.

In a joint statement, they said the proposal would endanger access to care for millions of Americans.

For years, Republicans have pushed to abolish President Barack Obama’s law, which expanded health insurance but failed to curb rising medical costs.

The bill will need 50 votes to pass the Senate before going to the House.

It would then go to the White House for the president’s signature.

Despite their longstanding opposition to Obamacare, Republicans have so far been unable to agree on a replacement.

Since taking control of the White House, several attempts to rally around a new plan have collapsed.

Now they have only until the end of the month to pass this bill.

Single-Payer Healthcare = Universal Coverage

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Meanwhile, proponents of a single-payer healthcare plan are organizing to urge Congress not only to stop the effort to repeal Obamacare, but to pass a bill that would guarantee Medicare for all. On Tuesday, former Vice President Al Gore became the latest prominent Democrat to speak in favor of single payer.

Al Gore: “The private sector has not shown any ability to provide a good, accessible, affordable healthcare for all. I believe, for example, we ought to have a single-payer healthcare plan.”

We’ll have more on the Republicans’ failed push on healthcare and the growing fight for single payer after headlines.

Single-payer healthcare is a healthcare system in which the state, financed by taxes, covers basic healthcare costs for all residents regardless of income, occupation, or health status. “Single-payer” describes the mechanism by which healthcare is paid for by a single public authority, not the type of delivery or for whom physicians work. In contrast, multi-payer healthcare uses a mixed public-private system.

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Trump to “Let Obamacare Fail” After Republicans Fail on Health Bill. (Fuckin’ right on.)

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President Donald Trump said Tuesday he plans to “let Obamacare fail,” after Senate Republican leaders failed in a bid to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement in place. The move was opposed by four Republicans, including three women—Senators Susan Collins, Shelley Moore Capito and Lisa Murkowski, who along with Rob Portman said the effort would deprive millions of Americans of health insurance. All three Republican women were left out of a Senate working group comprised of 13 white men that drafted the initial healthcare bill. On Tuesday, President Trump suggested he might let insurance markets created under Obamacare go under, and then try to work with Democrats on a rescue.

GOP Unveils Revised Health Bill to Gut Medicaid While Cutting Taxes: “YOU REALLY WANT TO CALL GOD: CAPITALISM.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled a revised plan Thursday to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, and is once again facing opposition from within his own party. On Thursday, Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky said they would oppose even putting the new bill to a vote. The measure would gut Medicaid by over $700 billion through 2026, while providing massive tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. Republicans are facing sustained grassroots resistance to their plans. On Thursday, 11 interfaith leaders, including the North Carolina NAACPpresident, Reverend William Barber, were arrested outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office protesting the latest version of the Republican healthcare plan. This is Traci Blackmon, executive minister of justice and witness ministries for the United Church of Christ.

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Rev. Traci Blackmon: “I happen to know that the people of Kentucky will suffer if this healthcare bill passes. You may be OK. Your friends may be OK. But the people who put you in office will suffer because of this bill. It is time to stop calling God by other names when you really want to call God capitalism.”