Obama reassures those worried about Obamacare as Democrats bash ruling

"This fight isn't over by a longshot," a Democratic state attorney general said.
Image: Former President Barack Obama shaking hands with President-elect Donald Trump
Barack Obama and Donald Trump at Trump's presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017.Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images file

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By Phil McCausland

Former President Barack Obama on Saturday attempted to comfort those who might be frightened that they would lose their health insurance after a federal judge in Texas ruled that the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, was unconstitutional.

Joined by many other high-profile Democrats, Obama was quick to respond to the decision that the law was made unconstitutional when Republicans removed the individual mandate from the law — a law that occurred earlier this year.

"As the decision makes its way through the courts, which will take months, if not years, the law remains in place and will likely stay that way," Obama said in a statement. "Open enrollment is proceeding as planned today. And a good way to show that you're tired of people trying to take away your health care is to go get covered!"

Midnight Saturday is the deadline to sign up for 2019 plans via HealthCare.gov.

U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor ultimately sided with a group of Republican-leaning states who had chosen to challenge the law, though his decision does not mean that Obamacare is scrapped immediately.

Obama clarified that the decision did not immediately strike down the law and that there was a long legal battle ahead.

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"But all of this should also be a reminder that Republicans will never stop trying to undo all that," Obama said in a statement of the law's benefits. "If they can't get it done in Congress, they'll keep trying in the courts, even when it puts people's pre-existing conditions coverage at risk. The only way to convince them to stop trying to repeal this law, and start working to make health care better, is to keep voting, in big numbers, in every election, for people who'll protect and improve our care."

Many other Democratic leaders also sounded off on the decision, stating that once again a law that had provided health care to millions had been put into jeopardy by Republicans.

But reactions weren't only coming from Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Attorney generals from some of the country's largest states voiced support of the law and shared their disdain for the decision.

“Today’s ruling is an assault on 133 million Americans with preexisting conditions, on the 20 million Americans who rely on the ACA for healthcare, and on America’s faithful progress toward affordable healthcare for all Americans,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “The ACA has already survived more than 70 unsuccessful repeal attempts and withstood scrutiny in the Supreme Court. Today’s misguided ruling will not deter us: our coalition will continue to fight in court for the health and wellbeing of all Americans.”

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who defended against the Republican lawsuit when the federal government chose not to, said in a statement that he chose to defend against the "far-fetched" lawsuit because he considered it a threat.

"Now, thanks to clever venue shopping and the support of President Trump, the politicians who brought this suit have scored a political victory, but I suspect their legal victory will be short-lived," he said in a statement. "This fight isn’t over by a longshot."

The decision was also blasted by the American Medical Association who called the ruling "a stunning display of judicial activism."

"This decision violates multiple precepts that guide and limit the exercise of the judicial power — and it sets a dangerous precedent that invites politicians to resort to the unelected, life-tenured judiciary when they cannot achieve their political goals through the democratic process," the group said in a statement.

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, called the decision "a great ruling for our country." His declaration, however, was not reinforced by many of his Republican allies on Capitol Hill.

Most appeared to stay quiet following the decision, though he received support from others in the conservative movement.

Approximately 20 million people have gained health insurance coverage since the law passed in 2010, according to the Associated Press.