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AG Derek Schmidt statement on federal appeals court ruling that key part of ‘Obamacare’ is unconstitutional

Release Date: Dec 18, 2019

TOPEKA – (December 18, 2019) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruling today that the “individual mandate” in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as “Obamacare,” violates the U.S. Constitution and is invalid:

“The ruling today is welcome confirmation that the power and scope of the federal government are not unlimited. As we have argued consistently, when Congress in 2017 eliminated the tax penalty for failing to purchase health insurance but left intact the naked statutory command that certain Americans buy health insurance, it cut the thin constitutional thread that the U.S. Supreme Court previously said supported the ACA. In other words, it is no longer possible to claim the individual mandate is a tax, and if it is not an exercise of Congress’s power to tax then no provision of the U.S. Constitution authorizes it and it is invalid.

“The appeals court sent the case back to the district court to more thoroughly assess whether other parts of the ACA can survive despite the unconstitutional mandate. This further judicial review will take time. I encourage the U.S. Congress and the Kansas Legislature to use this time to reaffirm and recodify other parts of the ACA, such as guaranteed protections for Kansans with preexisting medical conditions. Obviously, these and certain other provisions are important and popular, and it would seem both federal and state legislators of both political parties should agree that they be preserved despite Congress’s reckless disregard of the Constitution’s limits on its power.

“Kansas law declares that ‘[a] resident of this state has the right to … refuse to purchase health insurance.’ With today’s decision invalidating the federal mandate for certain persons to purchase health insurance, our office has successfully defended that duly-enacted state law and along with it the personal freedoms and liberties it was intended to protect.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit today held the individual mandate unconstitutional and directed the federal district court in Fort Worth, Texas, to consider further whether other parts of the ACA survive or are also invalid without the individual mandate. The decision came in Texas et. al. v. United States, a lawsuit filed in 2018 by several states, including Kansas, arguing that Congress exceeded its constitutional authority in ordering citizens to purchase insurance policies. The decision is available at http://bit.ly/2Mb3yOP.

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