January 19, 2019

17 states, D.C. appeal Texas judge's ruling declaring ACA unconstitutional

04 January 2019, 11:56 | Silvia Roy

The House Democrats' rules package includes a provision to allow the Speaker to"intervene in the Texas ACA case

The House Democrats' rules package includes a provision to allow the Speaker to

The Democratic attorneys general said they've launched their appeal of a recent ruling by a conservative federal judge in Texas who declared the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional.

A lawyer for the House said in a filing in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas that federal legal rules give "the House an unconditional right to intervene" in the case, given that Obamacare was passed into law by Congress, and given that the Trump administration is not defending the law.

The appeal comes almost three weeks after O'Connor issued a decision concluding that all of the ACA is invalid because of a recent change in tax law.

The government reported that about 8.4 million Americans have signed up this year under the law, reflecting steady demand for its subsidized health insurance.

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The case involves a lawsuit filed a year ago by almost a score of Republican attorneys general, who argued that without the penalty the ACA's insurance mandate was no longer constitutional because it no longer grew out of Congress' taxing authority.

Although the ACA remains active law, the judge's ruling could bring dire consequences if ultimately allowed to take effect, several members of the Democratic coalition led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said during a press call Thursday, framing the case as a matter of life and death.

Meanwhile, Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone of New Jersey announced Thursday that he will hold a hearing later this month on the impact of District Judge Reed O'Connor's ruling.

"This ruling is misguided, dangerous, and will wreak havoc on the American health care system", Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement.

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Some experts say the argument from 20 Republican-led states who filed the suit is flimsy and likely will not survive higher-court scrutiny. On Thursday, Colorado's Democratic attorney general-elect, Phil Weiser, said he plans to join the coalition. President Donald Trump still disdains "Obamacare", but he failed to repeal it after promising a better plan in its place.

· 133 million Americans, including 17 million kids, with preexisting health conditions.

The future of health care was a major issue during the latest congressional elections, and the Democrats promised swift action on that policy question once they regained control of the House.

"Many [Republicans], in a very inauthentic way, in my mind, indicated that they were prepared to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions", said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.

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Obamacare also offers subsidies that help low- and middle-income people afford health insurance and significantly funds the expansion of Medicaid coverage to people who previously were not eligible for that health coverage program.

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