In a lawsuit led by a conservative coalition of state Attorney Generals, U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor ruled in a surprise decision Friday night that the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as ObamaCare, is unconstitutional, threatening a decade-long stint of progress to make health care more affordable for all Americans.

Friday’s announcement came as a surprise to many including those within President Donald Trump’s own administration which had previously asked O’Connor to wait until after the ACA’s open enrollment period had ended, before announcing a final decision. Following the judge’s ruling administration officials and key agencies scrambled to release statements.

The case, which is bound for the Supreme Court and it’s new conservative majority, threatens efforts for future expansion of Medicaid, rescinds penalties for poorly performing hospitals, as well as threatening any efforts by the Trump administration to fulfill its own plans for lowering drug prices. The ruling would nullify reforms already in-progress as well, such as the testing of new models for making it easier to pay Medicare for services rendered, among others.

Democrats are already gearing up for a fight, though largely symbolic, with House Democratic leaders planning to file a motion to intervene in January when they return to the chamber in the majority.

Aside from legislators, California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra confirmed he would appeal Friday’s ruling, as well, keeping the law in place while the legal battle plays out, with other Democratic-led states vowing to do the same. It’s not clear how soon they will act.

 

 

Earlier this year attorneys for the Department of Justice were ordered to abandon all efforts for defending the ACA, prompting the resignation of one of the department’s senior attorneys and another three who chose to remove their names instead, from the official government briefing.