Trump hails judge's ruling against Obamacare as 'great'

US District Judge Reed O’Connor said Obamacare was unconstitutional based on its mandate requiring that people buy health insurance.

US President Donald Trump. Picture: AFP

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump on Saturday hailed a court decision against Obamacare as “a great ruling for our country,” while a US government official said the decision by a Texas judge would have no immediate impact on health coverage.

US District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth, Texas, on Friday said that Obamacare, known formally as the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA), was unconstitutional based on its mandate requiring that people buy health insurance.

In a decision that could reach the US Supreme Court, O’Connor sided with a coalition of 20 states that argued requiring people to pay for insurance coverage is illegal because a change in tax law last year eliminated a penalty for not having health insurance.

“It’s a great ruling for our country. We will be able to get great healthcare. We will sit down with the Democrats if the Supreme Court upholds,” Trump told reporters during a visit to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on a rainy Saturday.

Trump offered no details on the potential for healthcare talks with the Democrats, who are poised to take majority control of the US House of Representatives in early January. The Senate will remain in Republican hands.

O’Connor’s decision was issued the day before the end of a 45-day sign-up period for 2019 health coverage under the law.

The head of the federal Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which oversees the Affordable Care Act, said there were no changes and exchanges were open for business.

“We expect this ruling will be appealed to the Supreme Court,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma wrote on Twitter on Saturday. “Pending the appeal process, the law remains in place.”

“There is no impact to current coverage or coverage in a 2019 plan,” she said late on Friday.