FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – A federal judge in Texas has ruled the Affordable Care Act “invalid” on the eve of the sign-up deadline for coverage next year.
In a 55-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled Friday that last year’s tax cut bill knocked the constitutional foundation from under “Obamacare” by eliminating a penalty for not having coverage.
Supporters of the law immediately said they would appeal.
The White House applauded O’Connor’s ruling but said the law remains in place while appeals proceed. President Donald Trump tweeted that Congress should pass a new law.
Twenty Republican-led states brought the lawsuit. After Trump ordered the Justice Department to stop defending the health law, a coalition of ACA-supporting states took up the defense.
O’Connor is a conservative Republican appointee who previously blocked other Obama-era policies.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issued a statement Friday on the ruling.
“Nearly 850,000 Louisianans with a pre-existing health condition face uncertainty and could lose their health insurance as a result of a lawsuit that Attorney General Jeff Landry supported. Even more troubling is that 480,000 working Louisianans on Medicaid expansion could lose their health insurance over this decision. Being diagnosed with breast cancer or diabetes should not automatically mean that you are denied coverage to protect an insurance company’s profits, and if you put in a full day’s work, you should not be priced out of coverage. This was a short-sighted lawsuit, to say the least. I intend to vigorously pursue legislation to protect individuals with pre-existing conditions from losing their health insurance and ensuring the working people of our state aren’t penalized because of this decision.”
In a statement Friday, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry maintains he will make sure those with pre-existing conditions will be insured.
“Tonight, a federal court ruled the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) is unconstitutional. Since day one, this case has always been about the Constitution and federal overreach. Patients should come first in health care – not a bureaucracy in Washington, D.C. Should this ruling hold, I look forward to continue working with the Louisiana Legislature in supporting efforts to ensure those with pre-existing conditions can obtain coverage. I remain committed to working with our state leaders to find constitutionally sound, state-based solutions to this issue.”