The 5th Circuit ruled 2-1 on Dec. 18 that the already toothless individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional but remanded the case back to a federal judge in Texas.
So what happens now?
- U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor will rule how much of the landmark healthcare law will stand.
- Legal experts believe O'Connor did not apply a settled legal doctrine called "severability" correctly when he ruled the ACA invalid in December 2018. That doctrine holds the decision to scrap a piece of a law or destroy the whole thing rests on what Congress would have wanted.
- The case, Texas v. U.S., likely will drag on beyond the 2020 presidential election.
- Uncertainty around the ACA has previously led insurers on the individual exchanges to abandon the market or raise premiums.
- If the Supreme Court heard the case before O'Connor, it's unlikely the justices would make a decision before 2021.
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