Ed Sterling Texas Press
After the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit declared the individual mandate in “Obamacare” unconstitutional on Dec. 18, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton expressed his agreement.
“The Fifth Circuit’s holding is clear: the federal government cannot order private citizens to purchase subpar insurance products that they don’t want,” Paxton said. “The individual mandate is the centerpiece of Obamacare, and I am glad the Fifth Circuit recognized that it is unlawful.”
Paxton said he looks forward to demonstrating in federal district court that the rest of the law cannot stand without the individual mandate and added: “Yesterday’s decision is a win for the rule of law. Finally being rid of this law will be a victory for all Americans.”
The lawsuit against the federal government was filed in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Texas by Paxton and a list of other state attorneys general.
Paxton said it would be up to the lower court to determine whether any part of the U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, referred to as “Obamacare,” can remain, in light of the mandate’s unconstitutionality.
In Texas and 38 other states where the federal government administers health exchanges, health insurance premiums rose an average of 105 percent from 2013 to 2017, Paxton said.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Obamacare in 2012, but a majority of the justices agreed that the law’s individual mandate was constitutional only because its accompanying tax penalty could justify forcing individuals to purchase health insurance under Congress’ taxing power.
Devoid of that penalty, Obamacare’s individual mandate cannot be preserved as a tax, rendering Obamacare entirely unlawful, Paxton said.
Meanwhile, according to U.S. Census data, an estimated five million Texas residents, or nearly 18 percent of the state’s population, do not have health insurance.