Ohio Republican Attorney General Dave Yost announced Wednesday he would oppose President Donald Trump’s plan to completely repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare.
On December 14, 2018, shortly before the 2019 open enrollment period ended, a contentious and controversial case was finally ruled on by the U.S. Supreme Court. Texas v. Azar challenged that the entire Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional. The case noted that the Supreme Court previously ruled “the Individual Mandate was unconstitutional under the Interstate Commerce Clause but could fairly be read as an exercise of Congress’ Tax Power because it triggered a tax.”
However, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act “eliminated that tax,” and “thus compels the conclusion that the Individual Mandate may no longer be upheld under the Tax Power.”
“And because the Individual Mandate continues to mandate the purchase of health insurance, it remains unsustainable under the Interstate Commerce Clause—as the Supreme Court already held,” the case added.
Based on this, Texas Federal District Court Judge Reed O’Connor made three conclusions:
- First, the Court finds the Parties satisfy the applicable standing requirements.
- Second, the Court finds the Individual Mandate can no longer be fairly read as an exercise of Congress’s Tax Power and is still impermissible under the Interstate Commerce Clause—meaning the Individual Mandate is unconstitutional.
- Third, the Court finds the Individual Mandate is essential to and inseverable from the remainder of the ACA.
Essentially, he ruled ACA cannot exist without the Individual Mandate and that the Individual Mandate is unconstitutional. This ruling then went to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals where it has sat pending over the past few months.
The Department of Justice has determined that the district court’s judgment should be affirmed. Because the United States is not urging that any portion of the district court’s judgment be reversed, the government intends to file a brief on the appellees’ schedule.
This brief statement adds a great deal of weight to the lower court’s ruling.
But in response, Attorney General Yost announced that he would file an amicus brief supporting a reversal of the lower court’s opinion.
While Yost agreed that the Individual Mandate is unconstitutional, he said he “strongly” disagrees that it “justifies throwing out all of ACA and abandoning millions of Ohioans.”
“The impact on Ohioans is far too great to let judicial activism jeopardize our citizens’ health and well-being,” he said.
His rationale is that without protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions within the ACA, many Ohioans could lose their health care.
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Andrew Shirley is a reporter at Battleground State News and The Ohio Star. Send tips to [email protected].
Photo “Dave Yost” by Dave Yost. Background Photo “Ohio State Capitol” by Alexander Smith. CC BY-SA 3.0.