Affordable Care Act can remain in place – for now, rules US federal judge Affordable Care Act can remain in place – for now, rules US federal judge

Affordable Care Act can remain in place – for now, rules US federal judge
09 Jan 2019

A US federal judge who previously declared the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unconstitutional has now ruled that the controversial healthcare legislation can remain in effect as it goes through the appeals process.

Judge Reed O'Connor of the US District Court in Northern Texas wrote in his ruling that, although he affirms his December ruling that struck down the ACA, the law will continue to stand until the matter is settled in the appellate courts. He said many US citizens would have faced “great uncertainty” if his ruling was enacted immediately.

In his prior ruling, O'Connor said the ACA could not continue without the individual mandate that Congress eliminated last year at the insistence of President Donald Trump. The mandate required all tax-paying US citizens to purchase medical insurance, either through their employer or the ACA.

Congressional Republicans essentially annulled the mandate last year when they overhauled the US tax code, removing the penalty for not maintaining health coverage. But the US Supreme Court upheld the ACA in 2012, saying the mandate was constitutional because it was covered by Congress' power to levy taxes.

O'Connor's original ruling was criticised at the time even by some conservative legal scholars, who suggested the judge may have misread the law and was taking the stance of a judicial activist.

Jonathan Adler, a Case Western Reserve University law professor who led a separate ACA challenge, said: "I've been very critical of Judge O'Connor's severability analysis, but the standing analysis in these opinions may be even worse - and that's saying something. I will be gobsmacked if O'Connor's opinion survives review in the Fifth Circuit."

Plaintiffs, including 20 states, argued in court that the ACA could not continue to exist without the individual mandate. Seventeen other states defending the ACA have vowed to appeal O'Connor's ruling, UPI reported.

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

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A US federal judge who previously declared the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unconstitutional has now ruled that the controversial healthcare legislation can remain in effect as it goes through the appeals process.

Judge Reed O'Connor of the US District Court in Northern Texas wrote in his ruling that, although he affirms his December ruling that struck down the ACA, the law will continue to stand until the matter is settled in the appellate courts. He said many US citizens would have faced “great uncertainty” if his ruling was enacted immediately.

In his prior ruling, O'Connor said the ACA could not continue without the individual mandate that Congress eliminated last year at the insistence of President Donald Trump. The mandate required all tax-paying US citizens to purchase medical insurance, either through their employer or the ACA.

Congressional Republicans essentially annulled the mandate last year when they overhauled the US tax code, removing the penalty for not maintaining health coverage. But the US Supreme Court upheld the ACA in 2012, saying the mandate was constitutional because it was covered by Congress' power to levy taxes.

O'Connor's original ruling was criticised at the time even by some conservative legal scholars, who suggested the judge may have misread the law and was taking the stance of a judicial activist.

Jonathan Adler, a Case Western Reserve University law professor who led a separate ACA challenge, said: "I've been very critical of Judge O'Connor's severability analysis, but the standing analysis in these opinions may be even worse - and that's saying something. I will be gobsmacked if O'Connor's opinion survives review in the Fifth Circuit."

Plaintiffs, including 20 states, argued in court that the ACA could not continue to exist without the individual mandate. Seventeen other states defending the ACA have vowed to appeal O'Connor's ruling, UPI reported.

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

OTHER STORIES THAT MAY INTEREST YOU

US federal payroll services mostly operational despite partial govt shutdown

Employers and unions sue Jersey City over new payroll tax

California unveils raft of new wage and anti-discrimination legislation

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