On Friday, a federal judge fulfilled a wish conservatives have held for more than eight years by ruling the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, unconstitutional.
U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor agreed with a group of 20 states with Republican governors or legislatures that argued the constitutionality of the law’s individual mandate dissolved when Congress removed the tax penalty for the uninsured.
In 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the law and its mandate requiring people purchase insurance on the grounds that it fell within Congress’ taxation power. O’Connor said when the tax penalty was removed so was the central argument upholding the 2010 law’s constitutionality. His ruling declared not only the individual mandate but the entire law unconstitutional.
That decision leaves Republican and Democratic lawmakers, as well as millions of Americans, wondering, “So, what happens now?”
For the immediate future, the answer is nothing. The ACA will remain in place while the law’s future is handled in the courts, a process could take months or years to resolve. People who bought coverage on the health care exchanges before Saturday’s deadline will be insured for 2019.