Accordingly, Judge O’Connor said, “the individual mandate is unconstitutional” and the remaining provisions of the Affordable Care Act are also invalid.
In its letter to the appeals court, the Justice Department said Monday that it was “not urging that any portion of the district court’s judgment be reversed.” In other words, it agrees with Judge O’Connor’s ruling.
But on Tuesday, after a closed-door meeting, Democrats were piling on. Representative Cheri Bustos of Illinois, who leads the Democrats’ campaign committee, was quick to note Republicans’ vote in January to back a lawsuit repealing the Affordable Care Act, saying “their actions speak much louder than their lies.”
“Millions of hardworking families across America could see their health care costs explode because Washington Republicans sided with big insurance companies instead of everyday Americans,” Ms. Bustos added. “They simply cannot say they support protections for people with pre-existing conditions, lowering health care costs, or expanding access to care for more Americans, because they voted to destroy all of these things.
In the nine years since it was signed by Mr. Obama, the Affordable Care Act has become embedded in the nation’s health care system. It changed the way Medicare pays doctors, hospitals and other health care providers. It has unleashed a tidal wave of innovation in the delivery of health care. The health insurance industry has invented a new business model selling coverage to anyone who applies, regardless of any pre-existing conditions.
The law also includes dozens of provisions that are not as well known and not related to the individual mandate. It requires nutrition labeling and calorie counts on menu items at chain restaurants. It requires certain employers to provide “reasonable break time” and a private space for nursing mothers to pump breast milk. It improved prescription drug coverage for Medicare beneficiaries, and it created a new pathway for the approval of less expensive versions of biologic medicines made from living cells.
Lawyers said invalidation of the entire law would raise numerous legal and practical questions. It is, they said, difficult to imagine what the health care world would look like without the Affordable Care Act.