A Federal Court Gutted the Obamacare Individual Mandate

Matt Vespa,

We have a lot going on right now. The House Democrats are tying loose ends with their impeachment push on the Hill. They have the votes, but the Republican Senate is bound to chop block this nakedly partisan witch-hunt against President Trump. He won’t be removed. In the meantime, health care could become an even bigger issue for the 2020 cycle as a federal appeals court ruled that the individual mandate was unconstitutional. We’re geared up for another showdown at the Supreme Court. In July, it looked as if the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals seemed ready to trash the whole law. In December of 2018, a federal district judge in Texas ruled the individual mandate unconstitutional after the Trump administration removed the penalty. The whole law was now in the legal crosshairs.  Today’s ruling from the Fifth Circuit agreed that the individual mandate was unconstitutional, but stopped short of ruling on the rest of the law, opting to send it back to the lower courts again for review (via Fox News):

A federal appeals court upheld a lower court’s ruling that a key aspect of the ObamaCare law is unconstitutional — setting up another likely Supreme Court showdown in a presidential election year.

The 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals by a 2-1 vote concluded the original law’s key funding mechanism known as the individual mandate — requiring most Americans to purchase health insurance or face a tax penalty — was properly eliminated by Congress and therefore the entire law could not be enforced.

The three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans agreed with Texas-based U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor’s finding that the insurance requirement was rendered unconstitutional when, in 2017, Congress eliminated a tax penalty on people without insurance.

“The individual mandate is unconstitutional because it can no longer be read as a tax, and there is no other constitutional provision that justifies this exercise of congressional power,” the ruling said. “On the severability question, we remand to the district court to provide additional analysis of the provisions of the ACA as they currently exist.”

It’s a double-edged sword. Republicans have tried for nearly a decade to repeal the law. Each time it ended in failure, with Democrats scaring voters into thinking that any tweak would result in heath insurance being gutted. In reality, Obamacare squeezed the middle class, as premiums spiraled out of control. The main selling point for the law is that it would reduce costs and that if you liked your plan, you could keep it. Those are two very big lies.

With 2020 Democrats pushing Medicare for All, the irony is that it’s now the Left who is actually pushing a health care policy that will destroy people’s health care. With this scheme, 150+ million private health care plans would have to go away. Private health insurance has to be destroyed for this plan to work. That includes union health care plans as well. The question is if the GOP can thread the needle and throw a game-winning TD pass in this little game of policy football. With messaging being off for years, let’s not get too excited.  Either way, get ready for Obamacare-SCOTUS 2.0.