Federal judge strikes down ACA as unconstitutional

A U.S. District Court judge in Texas ruled on Dec. 14 the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, a decision that could throw the American healthcare system into turmoil.

The ruling was based on a lawsuit brought by 20 Republican governors and attorneys general which argued that dropping the individual mandate penalty for not having coverage makes the healthcare law unconstitutional.

"In sum, the Individual Mandate 'is so interwoven with [the ACA's] regulations that they cannot be separated. None of them can stand,'" Judge Reed O’Connor wrote in his judgment.

President Donald Trump enthusiastically tweeted about the ruling on Friday, calling it “great news for America.” He also said Republicans will now have a chance to pass a better healthcare law, although California has already signaled it will appeal the case, according to HealthExec.

The American Medical Association also indicated it will participate in appeal efforts, citing the danger of rolling back pre-existing condition protections that were included in the ACA.

“No one wants to go back to the days of 20 percent of the population uninsured and fewer patient protections, but this decision will move us in that direction,” AMA President Barbara L. McAneny, MD, said in a statement.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and National Multiple Sclerosis Society also released a joint statement against the ruling.

“The court should have respected the will of Congress, instead of ruling to invalidate the law at the expense of the 27 million Americans who will lose their health care by 2020, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates,” the statement read. “In the event of an appeal, we are hopeful the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit will support individuals with chronic diseases and preserve health care for millions of Americans.”

The ruling won’t impact current coverage or insurance coverage for 2019, according to the Trump administration. Read more from HealthExec below: