Conservative Texas Judge Thinks He Can Murder Obamacare All By Himself.
Today, as we hope you know, is the last day to sign up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act (GO DO THAT NOW if you have not already and need to! Click here!). Last night, in a move which will affect absolutely nothing right now, a Bush-appointed conservative judge in Texas ruled Obamacare "unconstitutional." More specifically, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor of Fort Worth, TX, declared the individual mandate unconstitutional, and found that the rest of the ACA needed to go as well because everything in it is "inseverable" from the mandate and therefore "invalid."
This will be swiftly appealed, and even Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to the ruling by saying "We expect this ruling will be appealed to the Supreme Court. Pending the appeal process, the law remains in place."
That memo, however, must not have made it to the President's desk:
Wow, but not surprisingly, ObamaCare was just ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL by a highly respected judge in Texas. Great news for America!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1544840189.0
As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been struck down as an UNCONSTITUTIONAL disaster! Now Congress must pass a… https://t.co/wvkbIz3BOQ— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1544839665.0
YEAH. That's not possible. It's literally not possible, at all, for any reason. I don't know if he thinks it's possible because he is stupid, or he knows it's not and he just really wants to make people think it is because he knows that most people really like that part of the ACA.
Either way, it's fucked up.
It's a cruel thing to do to tell people that they can have their cake and eat it too when it comes to pre-existing conditions -- and these people really do believe it, too. They truly think there's some magical way this can happen. Why? Because they also believe the mandate is just there to bust their balls, ruin their collective days and destroy their freedom, and for no other purpose than that. But the mandate, as this Judge understands, is actually what allows for pre-existing conditions to be covered. Without the mandate, we would have a situation where people would only sign up for insurance only when they actually need it, which would pretty much eliminate the entire purpose of having insurance to begin with.
In fact, the Trump administration has already previously said that they would no longer defend individual mandate or...
The requirement that insurers must take all applicants for comprehensive coverage regardless of prior health history, including pre-existing conditions. That includes a prohibition on insurers writing policies that exclude a particular condition — for example, a recurrence of breast cancer.
But Republicans aren't going to tell anyone that. They also aren't going to tell people that "high-risk pools," which are really their only "solution" to covering pre-existing conditions, will be very expensive and have extremely high premiums, deductibles and co-pays, which people with pre-existing conditions are not exactly going to be able to afford unless they have a whole lot of money (in which case they are more likely to have had health insurance all along). 35 states had high-risk pools prior to the ACA, and they were not a very popular solution to this problem.
So far, the ruling is not especially popular. The American Medical Association is the decision "an unfortunate step backward for our health system." Arthur Evans, chief executive officer of the American Psychological Association, told Bloomberg that the group was "very concerned for the millions of Americans," who get their insurance through the ACA.
"As our nation is in the midst of an opioid crisis, this coverage is especially needed," Evans said in a statement. "We should be expanding access to health insurance, including behavioral health services, rather than stripping coverage from Americans in need."
In a statement posted to Twitter, Nancy Pelosi said:
"The GOP Congress tried and failed to destroy the Affordable Care Act and protections for pre-existing conditions. Then, in the midterm election, the American people delivered a record-breaking margin of almost 10 million votes against House Republicans' vile assault on health care. Now, the district court ruling in Republicans' lawsuit seeks to subvert the will of the American people and sow chaos in the final day of HealthCare.gov open enrollment."
Pelosi has also promised that Democrats in the House and Senate will fight to keep Obamacare and fight to keep those with pre-existing conditions covered.
Appeals are already being planned -- including one from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who called the ruling an assault on the "133 million Americans with preexisting conditions, on the 20 million Americans who rely on the ACA's consumer protections for health care, and on America's faithful progress toward affordable health care for all Americans."
If this gets to the Supreme Court, it will be the third time the constitutionality of the ACA has been brought before the court -- and five of the current justices have found it constitutional before. It's extremely unlikely to be upheld, though it will likely be cited until then by Republicans who are eager to repeal the ACA with no actual plan in place for what to do after that. Nice!
This is all exhausting and terrible but seriously -- if you haven't signed up this year yet and need to, TODAY IS YOUR LAST DAY, so, again, go do that!
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse