by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A new district-court decision striking down the law appears to give Congress an opportunity to start over. Yet we cannot applaud Judge Reed O’Connor’s decision. Indeed, we deplore it. It will not lead to the replacement of Obamacare, as much as we desire that outcome. It will instead give Republicans another opportunity to dodge their responsibility to advance legislation toward that end.
It will not lead to the replacement of Obamacare because it is very likely to be overturned on appeal; and it is very likely to be overturned on appeal because it deserves to be.
The law Congress enacted in 2010 included a command that Americans buy health insurance, and not just any health insurance but insurance that met congressional specifications. At the time, there was a broad consensus among health-care experts that without this “individual mandate,” the rest of Obamacare would cause health markets to unravel. …
… That’s where Judge O’Connor comes in. His ruling holds that the individual mandate can no longer be constitutionally justified as a tax now that it is set at zero, and that since Congress considered the mandate central to Obamacare when it enacted that law in 2010, the whole thing has to go. Neither half of this argument is valid.