US federal judge rules Obamacare unconstitutional | News | DW | 15.12.2018
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US federal judge rules Obamacare unconstitutional

A federal judge has ruled the 2010 health law known as Obamacare unconstitutional due to a change to US tax law in 2017. Supporters of the law have said they will appeal the ruling.

A US federal judge in Texas on Friday ruled that the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare, is unconstitutional, in a decision that was likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court.

The judge ruled the ACA's "individual mandate," which financially penalizes US citizens who do not purchase health care, is unconstitutional because of a 2017 change to US tax law.

US District Judge Reed O'Connor in Fort Worth agreed with a coalition of 20 states that the change in tax law last year eliminating a penalty for not having health insurance invalidated the entire Obamacare law. 

Read more: How did the Republican attempt to repeal Obamacare fail?

The coalition of states challenging the law was led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, both Republicans.

The ACA's individual mandate was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2012, which ruled that the mandate functioned as tax that is under the legal authority of Congress.

But since the Republican-controlled Congress removed the financial penalty, the lawsuit argued there was no longer a legal basis for the Supreme Court ruling.

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Trump hails decision

US President Donald Trump praised the decision, tweeting: "Wow, but not surprisingly, Obamacare was just ruled unconstitutional by a highly respected judge in Texas. Great news for America!"

"As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been struck down as an unconstitutional disaster! Now Congress must pass a strong law that provides great healthcare and protects pre-existing conditions," he wrote in another tweet.

Republicans have opposed the 2010 law since its inception and have repeatedly tried and failed to repeal it.

Ruling to be appealed

Supporters of the law said they would appeal the ruling.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has been leading the multistate coalition to defend the law, issued a statement saying: "The ACA has already survived more than 70 unsuccessful repeal attempts and withstood scrutiny in the Supreme Court."

"Today's misguided ruling will not deter us: our coalition will continue to fight in court for the health and wellbeing of all Americans," the statement continued.

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law/bw (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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