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Obamacare Ruling Sets The Stage For New Health Care Battle in Congress

A federal judge's ruling that Obamacare is unconstitutional is setting the stage for another Congressional showdown over health care.
Posted at 6:19 PM, Dec 17, 2018

A federal judge’s ruling that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional is setting up another Congressional showdown over health care in 2019.

But new health care legislation will have to be a team effort. Republicans still control the Senate and Democrats will take control of the House next year. 

President Donald Trump is already calling on Congress to get it done. 

"We’ll sit down with the Democrats if the Supreme Court upholds, We’ll be sitting down with the Democrats and we will get great health care for our people," Trump told reporters after the ruling was made. 

That’s easier said than done. Republicans fought for years to repeal and replace Obamacare, but haven't managed to pass a full repeal bill through Congress -- even when they controlled both the House and Senate. 

Instead, they used a tax reform bill to repeal one of the health care law's key components — the individual mandate.

Instead, they used a tax reform bill to repeal one of the health care law's key components — the individual mandate.

A federal judge in Texas argued that by removing the tax penalty for Americans who don’t get health insurance, Republicans really intended to repeal the entire health care law. 

But many Republican lawmakers and even Trump have said that they support keeping some parts of Obamacare intact. 

"There’s no reason the individual mandate provision can’t be struck down and keep all of the good provisions of the affordable care act such as coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, the mandated benefits for substance abuse and mental illness treatment, and also allowing young people to stay on their parents policies until age 26," Sen. Susan Collins, (R) Maine, said in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union."

Democrats are already making plans to hold Republicans' feet to the fire on the issue. 

Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says as soon as Democrats take control of the House next year she will direct the House Counsel to defend the Affordable Care Act in the appeals process.

“...Republicans are fully responsible for this cruel decision and for the fear they have struck into millions of families across America who are now in danger of losing their health coverage,” Pelosi said in a statement. 

Pelosi reportedly plans to hold a vote to intervene in the case, even though she doesn’t have to, in order to get GOP members on record saying whether they support the ruling. 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he also plans to call for a vote in the Senate to make Congress' intent clear to the appeals court. 

In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Schumer said, "A lot of this depends on congressional intent, and if a majority of the House and majority of the Senate say that this case should be overturned, it will have a tremendous effect on the appeal.”

But whether or not the Senate holds a vote is up to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has remained silent on the issue thus far. 

The White House says the Affordable Care Act will remain in place for now, pending an appeals process. The case now heads to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit and will likely go all the way to the Supreme Court.