Texas Republicans have spearheaded a nationwide effort to kill the Affordable Care Act with a sweeping lawsuit that aims to overhaul maybe the biggest legislative accomplishment of the Obama administration.
Alongside a group of 20 states, Attorney General Ken Paxton sued in February to end the law, arguing that Congress had eliminated a key provision in the legislation when it passed the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The tax overhaul repealed the individual mandate, which required Americans to either get health insurance or face a financial penalty.
The Supreme Court originally upheld ObamaCare on the idea that the mandate was somehow a tax. Although Congress does not have the ability to require people to buy health insurance, or a car, or a house, this was considered part of lawmakers’ taxing authority, Paxton said.
But when Congress removed that penalty, they essentially gutted the taxing part of it, he said. Now, states are arguing that the entire basis for the health care act standing as constitutional is gone, meaning the entire law is unconstitutional.
“We believe it is, because if fundamentally the individual mandate is gone, what is left of ObamaCare? It’s fundamentally gutted, and it really has no standing purpose,” he said on Thursday during an interview with FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo.
California Democrats led a counter-group of 16 states and Washington, D.C. and has argued the entire law remains constitutional and should therefore remain in place.
The two groups faced off on Wednesday in a federal district court in the Northern District of Texas. A decision is expected in coming weeks, but Paxton guessed the case would likely end up back at the U.S. Supreme Court.