Reaction in Georgia was swift to a ruling Friday night from a federal judge in Texas striking down the entire Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Chris Carr, Georgia’s attorney general, said the ruling was just what he and other Republican leaders had argued, when Carr in February added Georgia’s weight behind the lawsuit as one of 20 states challenging the law.
“My colleagues and I argued that the ACA is a constitutionally flawed law, and this federal court ruling validates what we’ve been saying all along,” Carr said in a tweet late Friday night.
In February, when Carr released his announcement supporting the suit, he said, “Our office has pushed back against this overt form of federal overreach from the beginning, and we will continue to work with other states to see that it is resolved in a way that protects the interests of our citizens.”
The court struck down more than just the “individual mandate” that every American must have health insurance. It said that the entire law is inseverable from the individual mandate, and so the whole thing is now unconstitutional.
That has vast implications. Following the ruling Friday night, the American Medical Association and Georgia patient advocates raised the alarm.
The provisions struck down by the ruling include protections for insurance customers with pre-existing conditions; mandatory insuring of benefits like drug costs; and insurance for kids up to 26 years old on their parents’ policies.
If all that goes away now as a result of the suit, Carr said Congress can take care of that.
“Now, Congress has an opportunity to do things the right way and pass a healthcare law that Georgians and our nation truly deserve – one that increases choice, lowers costs and protects those with pre-existing conditions,” he added.
Up to now Congress has been unable to agree on a replacement for the law.
The ruling is at the lowest level of the federal courts, and is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and then to the U.S. Supreme Court.
It will not go into effect immediately.
Legally, its argument isn’t actually applicable until Jan. 1 when the individual mandate tax penalty becomes $0. After that, major changes like this one sometimes are postponed by courts until all their appeals are finished and the final decision is made.
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