Strike Three Against Obamacare: A Misguided Law Is Once Again Ruled Unconstitutional

What does it take to rid Americans of a lemon law? For the third time now since its passage, a central element of Obamacare has been ruled unconstitutional . In the civics texts I learned back in the 1960’s, such a law would long ago have been deep-sixed, sent back to Congress to either be fixed or permanently discarded. Yet here we are–a decade after the law squeaked through Congress on a strict party-line vote–with Obamacare still limping along delivering far less than originally promised [1] at an ever-escalating cost to U.S. taxpayers and health plan subscribers [2].Let’s review the bidding:Original Obamacare Violated the Commerce Clause. In June 2012, in NFIB v. Sebelius, the Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) ruled that the individual mandate was an unconstitutional violation of the Commerce Clause. A majority of the court agreed that the Commerce Clause prohibits Americans from being forced to purchase health insurance (or any other product) simply because Congress thinks it’s a good idea.Original Obamacare Unconstitutionally Coerced States. In the same decision, SCOTUS ruled that Obamacare’s Medicaid expansi0n was unconstitutionally coercive on the states. A majority of the court–including Justices Breyer and Kagan–concluded that Congress exceeded its enumerated powers and violated basic principles of federalism when it coerces States into accepting onerous conditions that it could not impose directly by threatening to withhold all federal funding under Medicaid.”SCOTUScare” Now Violates the Commerce Clause. On December 14, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that the law’s individual mandate is unconstitutional, and that because the mandate cannot be separated from the rest of the law, the rest of the law is also invalid (full ruling). It remains to be seen whether SCOTUS will uphold this ruling.

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