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Democrats Fight Back Against Lawsuit Threatening Health Law

by Kaiser Health News | Updated on 1.7.19

Democrats on Thursday officially launched their pushback against a December federal court decision that declared the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional.

A group of 17 Democratic state attorneys general formally appealed the Dec. 14 decision in Texas v. U.S. issued by U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor. In the case filed by 18 Republican state attorneys general and two GOP governors, O’Connor ruled that when Congress in 2017 reduced the tax penalty for not having insurance to zero, the rest of the law became invalidated.

“Our coalition of attorneys general has been working around the clock to challenge the decision from the Northern District of Texas that threatens our entire health care system,” said California AG Xavier Becerra, who is leading the Democratic group. “This case could impact children, seniors, women, families and workers who have their own insurance through employers,” he said.

The far-reaching impact of invalidating the law cannot be overstated. Even Republican health efforts — including many Trump administration initiatives — would be threatened by the disappearance of the ACA.

There was a brief lag between O’Connor’s opinion and the Democrats’ appeal because the judge did not issue last month’s ruling as a formal, final decision, given it didn’t address other aspects of the GOP challenge. At the request of the Democratic attorneys general, on Dec. 30 the judge finalized his findings for this part of the case, and clarified that the law would remain in effect during the appeals process.

Separately, the brand-new Democratic majority in the U.S. House voted to support the appeal of the decision on their first day in charge of the chamber.

They approved language authorizing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “to intervene, otherwise appear, or take any other steps in any other cases involving the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” better known as the ACA.

House Democrats also filed a motion to intervene in the defense of the ACA against the GOP-led lawsuit.

Republicans on the House floor were not impressed. “That effort does not preserve preexisting conditions,” Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), now the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said on the floor. Walden, who helped lead the GOP’s unsuccessful “repeal-and-replace” effort in the last Congress, suggested that lawmakers should instead pass a law reaffirming the preexisting condition protections.

Some backers of the law agreed with Walden. “The House should pass a bill. Send it to the Senate. See what happens,” tweeted University of Michigan law professor Nicholas Bagley.

In an op-ed written with fellow Michigan law professor Richard Primus, Bagley said Congress could more effectively remove the legal threat to the law by raising the mandate penalty to a dollar, by repealing the mandate entirely or by clarifying that eliminating the mandate penalty does not require the invalidation of the rest of the law.

“Any of these solutions could be accomplished in a one-sentence statute, and any one of them would end the Texas lawsuit,” they wrote.

California Healthline’s California politics correspondent Samantha Young contributed to this report.

Kaiser Health News

Written by Kaiser Health News

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(108)
  • burrkitty
    Voted Support
    01/07/2019
    ···

    A Universal single payer healthcare system is what we need, but in the meantime people need to be able to go to the doctor without bankruptcy.

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  • SneakyPete
    Voted Oppose
    01/07/2019
    ···

    MORE TAXES & EXPANSION OF THE FAILED ACA (aka OBAMACARE) Brief and to the point...... We’ve seen more taxes on the 50% of the Americans taxpayers who’ve paid their taxes to provide expansion of the already failing Affordable Care Act (AKA ObamaCare). We are seeing the burden being placed on the tax paying members of society, increasing drastically as the increasing numbers of non-paying taxpayers who place an expanding reliance, on the already overburdened medical facilities, across the countryside. It’s readily being seen that the Democrats are dependent on the recipients of the ACA benefits, which drives their constant expansion of the program to maintain keeping them, in their voting base fold. They, the Democrats are using the ACA medical support system for undocumented immigrants, to bolster support of their political agenda of the, which sadly 😢 includes their insistence of keeping the Southern borders open allowing a further influx of the flow of not only illegals but also facilitates the Cartels flow of drugs and criminal elements into the nation. Just watch and see what the future advancing “Caravans” will contain. The Key DEMOCRATIC Agenda items to be implemented after their assuming control of the U.S.House On 3 January 2019: * “TAX & SPEND” will be their primarily goal. * Impeachment of President Trump. * Impeachment of Supreme Court Justice👨‍⚖️ Kavanaugh. * Maintaining the keeping of the U.S. Southern boarder open. They will fail and fail the more that they try. 😈 SO LET THE FUN AND GAMES BEGIN FOLK SneakyPete ..... 🇺🇸🙀🇺🇸🙀🇺🇸. 1*7*19.....

    Like (21)
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  • ConservativeGuy
    01/08/2019
    ···

    Theft is illegal.

    Like (3)
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  • Jackie
    Voted Support
    01/07/2019
    ···

    At the very least this should occur. But would really love to see Medicare for all.

    Like (24)
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  • Mark
    Voted Oppose
    01/08/2019
    ···

    Want to see what universal healthcare looks like? Just look at how VA medical benefits are handled. That my friend is what you’re going to get. And trust me, you won’t like it.

    Like (15)
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  • B.R.
    01/08/2019
    ···

    Replace ACA. Stop wasting time on a failing program.

    Like (3)
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  • Dave
    Voted Support
    01/07/2019
    ···

    Need to reinstate the Full ACA to make it successful, single pay or Medicare for all. The GOP has strip and defunding ACA to make it unsustainable and unsuccessful for the sake of drug, insurance and healthcare industries for a reason $$$$$$$. The industry lobbies and contributed to fight ACA they do not want to be accountable.

    Like (18)
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  • Michael
    Voted Support
    01/07/2019
    ···

    Please protect the ACA.

    Like (14)
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  • Robert
    Voted Support
    01/07/2019
    ···

    Sock it to ‘em, Nancy!

    Like (14)
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  • Lauren
    Voted Support
    01/07/2019
    ···

    We need universal single payer as soon as possible but we should preserve what we have for now.

    Like (11)
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  • Chickie
    Voted Support
    01/08/2019
    ···

    During the midterm elections, candidates were very late in addressing the top concern of the American public: healthcare. Specifically, imposing a law that guaranteed an insured could not be denied coverage and no premium increase for preexisting conditions. Both sides of the aisle must work together to create a healthcare system that protects each of each, equally; this must include all branches of the government. The time of the laissez-fair attitude is over! Get to work; Medicare for all can work. Y’all need to clear your eyes of the green dollar signs from insurance and pharmaceutical corporations and act on behalf of those who elected you!

    Like (11)
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  • Lionman
    Voted Support
    01/07/2019
    ···

    Without the ACA, the Administration and Congress has no mechanism to control drug prices or healthcare in general.

    Like (10)
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  • Ken
    Voted Support
    01/07/2019
    ···

    For profit health insurance is good for share holders and bad for those in need of affordable health care. We need a health insurance system that doesn't discriminate against those that fit into the working poor category. We need a systen that is humane,something that is lacking in our for profit industry.

    Like (10)
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  • John
    Voted Support
    01/07/2019
    ···

    Support the ACA while moving quickly to a universal single payer healthcare system, cradle to grave.

    Like (9)
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  • godquestion
    Voted Oppose
    01/08/2019
    ···

    When has government involvement ever made anything better and/or less expensive? The government is not a health care organization. It was not designed to be. The federal government should stay out of things that are not their business. It is ridiculous to do this.

    Like (8)
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  • RAN
    Voted Oppose
    01/07/2019
    ···

    Government has no place in healthcare, health law, ACA unaffordable care act is crap and has no place in a so called free society.

    Like (7)
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  • JTJ
    Voted Oppose
    01/08/2019
    ···

    Democrats don’t want me to have healthcare choices, but they feel entitled to steal my money to pay for theirs. Selfish jerks.

    Like (7)
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  • Sandra.
    Voted Oppose
    01/07/2019
    ···

    Government Healthcare equals high costs and long lines. Private health care savings accounts would create competition to bring prices down and cut out the middleman bringing more choices and freedom to healthcare for the citizens.

    Like (6)
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  • Mark
    Voted Oppose
    01/08/2019
    ···

    Keep the government’s paws off my healthcare decisions

    Like (6)
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  • 1958FRO
    Voted Support
    01/07/2019
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    I support anything that the Democrats do because they're on the people's side.

    Like (5)
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  • Libertarian
    Voted Oppose
    01/08/2019
    ···

    ObamaCare failed and cost us way more than predicted . Let us not throw any more of our taxes at this list cause.

    Like (5)
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  • Bernie
    Voted Oppose
    01/08/2019
    ···

    It is unconstitutional

    Like (5)
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