Washington (AFP) – Outraged Democrats vowed to appeal a federal judge’s ruling that could undo the US health care law known as Obamacare, saying on Saturday that they will use their new power in Congress to hold Republicans responsible and “expose their lies.”
US District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled late Friday that the health insurance reform, officially known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), is unconstitutional.
The White House said it expects the ruling to be appealed to the Supreme Court. For now, it said in a statement, “the law remains in place.”
But Democrats, who have seen the law survive scores of legal and legislative attacks, vowed to fight back, saying the health coverage of millions of Americans is at stake.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer tweeted that Republicans had pretended to care about those protected by Obamacare “while quietly trying to remove that support in the courts. Next year, we will force votes to expose their lies.”
Democrats see the law as a signature achievement of former president Barack Obama, while Republicans dismiss it as governmental overreach. Donald Trump made abolishing and replacing the program a central pledge of his presidential campaign.
In a separate Obamacare case in 2012, five of the nine Supreme Court justices upheld the law. All five remain on the court.
Still, it remains unclear how they might rule in the new case. If the decision is upheld, it could significantly disrupt the US health care system.
In his ruling Friday, the Texas-based judge said that the full Obamacare program was unconstitutional because Congress, in its 2017 tax overhaul, eliminated a penalty for anyone lacking health insurance who failed to sign up for the program.