Shares of health insurers, hospital operators fall as Obamacare ruled unconstitutional

U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor in Fort Worth issued the ruling late Friday, on the eve of the final day of open enrollment for ACA coverage.

"The court must find the individual mandate inseverable from the ACA", he said.

Former President Barack Obama posted messages on social media about his signature law - encouraging Americans to enroll by Sunday's open enrollment deadline, despite the ruling.

Healthcare advocates, though admitting that the ruling will likely be repealed, quickly addressed the concern that the attack on the ACA could harm133 million Americanswho rely on the law's rule banning insurance companies from refusing coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and the 20 million Americans who gained insurance because of the law.

Centene Corp (CNC.N) fell 7.8 percent to $117.5, while Molina Healthcare (MOH.N) slumped 10.1 percent to $118.4.

WellCare Health Plans (WCG.N) and Anthem Inc (ANTM.N) declined 4.7 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively.

The AMA will work with patient and other health stakeholder groups in pursuing an appeal and reversal of this unfortunate decision at the district court level.

However, the White House said that the ruling is likely to be appealed in the Supreme Court, and therefore the Act will remain in force for now.

However, the judge did not move to block the law's operation, so it remains in effect. It was modified by Congress in 2017 to eliminate the tax penalty for most Americans who refused to obtain health insurance.

Americans with pre-existing conditions, before ACA, faced either high premiums or an inability to access health insurance at all.

Trump urged Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the House of Representatives speaker-designate, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, to "pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT health care".

Republican lawmakers have failed several times to repeal the law through Congressional actions, leaving a coalition of GOP governors and attorneys general to try to achieve their aims through the courts. "In our view, the demise of the ACA would become the number one issue in the 2020 presidential election", it said. "A confirming Supreme Court Decision will lead to GREAT HealthCare results for Americans!"

Many are unsure about their healthcare due to a recent court ruling.

"We haven't even sworn in the new congress", said Collins, "and I'm anxious that we're getting into this perpetual campaign mode instead of focusing on governing".

Spokespersons for the health care industry, for hospitals and other medical providers, and operators of the state-run health insurance "exchanges" (marketplaces where insurance is available under Obamacare) have complained that there would be utter chaos if Judge O'Connor's ruling would go into effect in practical terms. The judge agreed with the suit's argument that the law should be struck down because Congress past year repealed the tax penalty that enforced a mandate that most Americans get health insurance.

On Friday, O'Connor ruled that after Trump signed a $1.5 trillion tax bill passed by Congress a year ago that eliminated the penalties, the individual mandate could no longer be considered constitutional.

One thing that may happen now, perhaps as soon as this week, is that some or all of the 16 states (and Washington, D.C.) that entered the case to defend Obamacare's constitutionality will attempt to get Judge O'Connor's decision formally postponed while they appeal.

Essentially, without the mandate - Obamacare can not stand. "This is insanity in print, and it will not stand up on appeal", tweeted University of Michigan Law School professor Nicholas Bagley, an expert in health law.

"As a doctor, people say to me, 'What does this mean to me?' And for right now, very little", he continued.

In his December 14 ruling, Judge O'Connor agreed with this line of argument.

  • Jon Douglas