U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, speaking to the Women’s March attendees at the Iowa State Capitol on January 18, 2019.
Photo Credit: Phil Roeder (CC-By-2.0)

Congress had already zeroed out the penalty for the individual mandate for Obamacare. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld a ruling in federal district court that found the individual mandate to be unconstitutional.

In Texas v. Azar, the court ruled that since the individual mandate no longer has a penalty which the Supreme Court ruled was constitutional calling it a tax and said Congress had the constitutional authority to levy taxes.

The court explained that in the original Obamacare Supreme Court ruling “(a) majority of the court … concluded that the individual mandate is not constitutional under either the Interstate Commerce Clause or the Necessary and Proper Clause.”

“Now that the shared responsibility payment amount is set at zero, the provision’s saving construction is no longer available.  The … attributes that once saved the statute because it could be read as a tax no longer exist,” the opinion reads.

Considering the penalty is zeroed out it doesn’t really change much, but U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, condemned the decision.

“Yesterday’s ruling by the Fifth Circuit is disastrous for Iowa. By continuing down a path that could lead to completely undoing the Affordable Care Act, this decision not only risks raising premiums in the short term, but it could also eliminate protections for the 1.2 million Iowans living with pre-existing conditions, undo Medicaid expansion, and send health care costs skyrocketing across our country,” she said.

“This campaign to undermine and eliminate health care coverage for Iowans has gone on too long. Since I’ve come to Congress, I’ve voted to lower prescription drug costs, protect those living with pre-existing conditions from losing their coverage, and supported legislation to improve care for seniors and children. We must focus on lowering costs and expanding access to health care, not eliminating coverage,” Axne added.

The individual mandate was always on shaky constitutional ground. What the ruling didn’t do, and what Texas and the coalition of states joining them hoped it would do, was render Obamacare in its entirety unconstitutional.

It will be interesting to see if the Supreme Court takes this up. She’s not wrong, however, this could lead to Obamacare’s “undoing.” I just disagree that is a bad thing.

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