A US federal judge has ruled that the Affordable Care Act, a health care law commonly known as Obamacare, was unconstitutional based on its mandate requiring that people buy health insurance.
US District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth, Texas, made the ruling Friday following a lawsuit filed by 20 states opposed to the federal government health plan.
The judge agreed with the states that a change in tax law last year that eliminated a penalty for not having health insurance invalidated the entire Obamacare law.
The coalition of states challenging the law was led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, both Republicans.
Republicans have opposed the law and have repeatedly tried and failed to repeal it.
Obamacare was enacted by Congress in 2010 and signed into law by former Democratic President Barack Obama.
The federal judge ruled that under the logic of the landmark 2012 Supreme Court ruling that upheld the law, the individual mandate, which required that most Americans obtain health insurance or pay a tax, is now unconstitutional.
In the 2012 ruling, a majority of the justices concluded that the individual mandate unconstitutionally imposed a requirement that Americans buy insurance. However, a different majority held the mandate amounted to a constitutional tax penalty.
O’Connor ruled that after Trump signed a $1.5 trillion tax bill passed by Congress last year that eliminated the penalties, the individual mandate could no longer be considered constitutional.
A spokeswoman for California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who was among a group of Democratic attorneys general defending the law, said they would appeal the decision.
About 11.8 million consumers nationwide enrolled in 2018 Obamacare exchange plans, according to the US government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Obamacare was designed to increase health insurance quality and affordability, lower the uninsured rate by expanding insurance coverage and reduce the costs of healthcare.
Health care experts from across the political spectrum have said the repeal of Obamacare could cause millions of Americans to drop out of the health care market.