Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich prevailed in court late Friday, when a federal judge in Texas struck down the entire Affordable Care Act, saying that its mandate that all individuals purchase health insurance is unconstitutional.
Brnovich made Arizona a plaintiff in the case, Texas v. United States, when he joined with 17 other Republican state attorneys general and two Republican governors in challenging the constitutionality of the individual mandate.
Brnovich’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the ruling, or on the 155,000 Arizonans who have purchased plans through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces and stand to lost them because of the ruling. Additionally, every Arizonan with health insurance is covered for pre-existing conditions because of ACA requirements, and the ruling would allow insurance companies to begin denying coverage or increasing the cost for pre-existing conditions.
In his ruling, Judge Reed O’Connor said the tax-reform bill passed by Congress in December 2017 rendered the entire ACA, often referred to as Obamacare, unconstitutional.
The 16 Democratic attorneys general who intervened to defend the law pledged to appeal it, and many legal analysts say that O’Connor’s ruling is almost certain to be struck down on appeal because it uses a 2017 change to one small part of the massive Affordable Care Act to effectively repeal the entire law – something Congress could have done, but didn’t.
“Congress amended one provision of a 2,000 page law and did not touch the rest of the law so it is implausible to believe that Congress intended the rest of the law not to exist,” Abbe Gluck, a health law expert at Yale Law School who filed a brief supporting the ACA in this case, told The New York Times.
Conservative legal experts also were critical of O’Connor’s decision. Ted Frank, a lawyer at the Competitive Enterprise Institute who is critical of the ACA, told The Washington Post the decision is “embarrassingly bad” because “you’re twisting yourself into knots” to reach a particular conclusion.