The judge’s move staying his decision on unconstitutionality of ACA stabilizes the market, at least temporarily.
A federal judge who ruled the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional earlier this month has stayed his decision to allow the law to remain in place during the appeals process.
U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Texas issued the ruling Sunday saying many Americans would “face great uncertainty” if his decision went into immediate effect. However, he stands by his decision that the lack of an individual mandate and its penalty invalidates the entire law.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Open enrollment in the ACA for 2019 coverage just ended on December 15.
The judge’s move staying his decision stabilizes the market, at least temporarily, for consumers and insurers.
His decision also affects other ACA provisions such as Medicaid expansion.
Providers have gained from having more of their patient population insured under the ACA.
The judge’s controversial decision striking down the Affordable Care Act is only the beginning of what is expected to be a lengthy legal and political process.
Democratic attorneys general, led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, have filed a motion to allow for an immediate appeal of the ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Texas. They asked the judge to stay his decision.
Ranking Democrats have also said they would appeal, and a Democratic-led House of Representatives will also likely join the lawsuit.
Legal experts seem to agree that if the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the decision, the case will likely head to the Supreme Court. The issue could become central to the 2020 election as it could take that long for the Justices to hear the case.
But if the appeals court reverses the order, the matter is not so clear. Some legal experts expect the Justices would turn down the case.
The Supreme Court has twice upheld the law. An earlier decision defended the validity of the Affordable Care Act as a form of taxation due to the individual mandate.
This has now proved problematic, as the Texas court has ruled the ACA is invalid without the mandate.
The plaintiffs who won the case are 20 Republican-led states which brought a lawsuit in February claiming that the individual mandate is the core provision of the ACA and inseparable from the rest of the law. Without it — as will be the case starting January 1 — the rest of the ACA is unconstitutional, they said.
Date: January 3, 2019