While Friday's decision by U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor in Texas was sweeping, it has little immediate practical impact because the Affordable Care Act remains in place while the legal battle continues, possibly to the Supreme Court.
Since that change in position, Trump and other Republicans have sent mixed signals on the ACA - asking the judge to end protections for people with pre-existing conditions but insisting during the midterm elections that they would preserve those protections, and accusing Democrats of undermining them. The Senate will remain in Republican hands.
Officials with MNsure, the state of Minnesota's health insurance exchange, issued a statement Saturday that the court ruling "will not affect MNsure's open enrollment period, (Minnesotans') current coverage or their coverage in 2019". "The federal government wouldn't be able to pay for Medicare because all the Medicare payments have been structured because of the Affordable Care Act".
"This ruling is not going to affect people who are now enrolled who're in Obamacare policies or the policies for 2019", Collins said.
They have instead focused their fire on the Trump administration's alleged collusion in Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections.
However, Democrats including incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi vowed to fight to save former President Barack Obama's signature legislation. Capitol Hill Republicans are now stuck between their antipathy for the 2010 law and the real-world difficulty of offering affordable health care coverage that protects sicker Americans. If the decision is upheld here it's likely headed to the Supreme Court; if it's reversed, some legal experts expect the Supreme Court to turn down the case.
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Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, the incoming Republican Policy Committee chairman, echoed Durbin's forecast of the decision as potentially setting off a political firestorm, saying on "Meet the Press", that the judge's ruling is not as significant as the congressional process for forming and passing health care policy.
About 11.8 million consumers nationwide enrolled in 2018 Obamacare exchange plans.
He said the U.S. Supreme Court's conservative wing has been skeptical in the past of striking down entire laws because of a single problematic provision, and at least a bare majority of five justices would likely agree that O'Connor was wrong.
Two days after the November 6 U.S. congressional elections, a Reuters/Ipsos national opinion poll found that healthcare was the top issue Americans wanted the U.S. Congress to address.
"Congress stated many times unequivocally - through enacted text signed by the President - that the Individual Mandate is "essential" to the ACA", he wrote. "The Senate could pass a nonbinding resolution expressing the body's support for why the decision ought to be overturned, or simply clarifying its intent when it repealed Obamacare's individual mandate", they reported Sunday.
"He could have taken a much more surgical approach and just struck down the individual mandate and kept the rest of the law intact".
In fact, the White House pursued the unusual step of intervening in the Texas District Court case to argue that without the tax to enforce the ACA's individual mandate, the law's provisions guaranteeing coverage to people with preexisting conditions and charging them the same rates as others should be struck down and invalidated.