There’s been a lot of excitement over the last few days after a Texas federal judge struck down the controversial Obamacare program as unconstitutional. A lot of Republicans have been keen to get rid of Obamacare and replace it with something that gives better healthcare at a lower cost. Is this their big chance? Well, maybe. But, unfortunately, maybe not.
- A federal court victory on a topic as emotive as Obamacare is bound to leave a lot of people feeling that something great has been achieved. It isn’t that simple, though. A basic principle of our legal system is to appeal a verdict to a higher court, and with Dems all over the country still backing the ex-president’s white elephant, this one will be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. If another judge disagrees with the Texas ruling, Obamacare stays.
- The ACA is staying for now anyway. Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that the Supreme Court decision in 2012 that classified Obamacare as a tax was no longer valid, since there’s no penalty anymore if you don’t sign up for insurance. That means it can’t exist as an exercise of Congress’s tax-raising powers. There are other powers it could potentially fall under though, and its supporters in Congress will work to find one that fits. Until that’s resolved, it will still be the law.
- Dem leaders in both the Senate and the House have vowed to fight this decision, and that means the appeal is going to have heavyweight political backing as it heads towards the Supreme Court. The justices, even the conservative-leaning ones, will be under a lot of pressure to uphold the appeal.
- This isn’t the first time a court has tried to repeal Obamacare. In fact there have been over 70 attempts so far. This is one of the strongest rulings, but there’s still at least a chance an appeal will kill it somewhere along the line.
So overall, Judge O’Connor has landed a heavy blow on Obamacare and there’s a realistic chance it will end the ongoing mess, so we can replace it with a proper healthcare system. It’s far too early to be saying “Obamacare is dead,” though. It isn’t yet, and it has a pretty good chance of staggering on for another few years.