In December, Republicans scored a legal victory when U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor, a George W. Bush appointee, ruled that Obamacare must be abolished. Congress had previously removed the tax penalty for those who neglect to sign up for health insurance, which O’Connor cites as invalidating the Obama Administration legislation. On Monday, the Trump administration backed that ruling, a policy shift that concerned Democrats.

Three Justice Department lawyers wrote a letter to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals confirming their position. “The Department of Justice has determined that the district court’s judgment should be affirmed,” the lawyers wrote. “The United States is not urging that any portion of the district court’s judgment be reversed.”


The 5th Circuit is currently considering the argument and it’s expected that the ruling will be appealed up to the Supreme Court. Should the Supreme Court uphold the ruling and abolish the nine-year-old Affordable Care Act, which currently insures over 20 million Americans, the effects would reverberate across the health care industry, which has adapted to the Barack Obama-era law. It would even affect the drug price reforms the Trump administration is championing, as some of those price alterations require some of Obamacare’s provisions.

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On prior occasions, President Donald Trump and his administration have voiced support for specific elements of his predecessor’s law, such as how it allows children to remain under their parents’ health care until they turn 26. Democrats, however, remain in support of the Affordable Care Act, with those in the House having independently planned to introduce a bill that would strengthen the Obama-era law. In January, Attorney General William Barr informed Democrats of his intention to reevaluate the Texas ruling.

Democrats have come out against the Justice Department’s “unconscionable” decision. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s chairman, said in a statement, “Millions of Americans will lose their health care immediately if this decision is upheld. We will do everything we can to defeat this attempt to rip away Americans’ health care.” A coalition composed of California and other Democrat-led states is currently challenging O’Connor’s ruling, arguing the 2010 health care law can remain in effect despite the absence of a penalty for those who fail to sign up for health insurance.

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