A judge has ruled that Obamacare is unconstitutional, putting the future of the federal healthcare law in jeopardy.
The decision came Friday, just a day ahead of when open enrollment for Obamacare's marketplaces are set to close across most of the U.S.
The case, which was argued Sept. 5, is likely to face an appeal. The decision was issued by U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in the Northern District of Texas, an appointee of former President George W. Bush.
Texas v. Azar was filed by 20 Republican state officials, who have asked that all of Obamacare be thrown out as a consequence of the new tax law, which zeroed out a penalty on the uninsured. The officials argued that the fine was central to making the rest of the law work, and that without it, the rest should crumble.
O'Connor appeared to sympathize with this argument in his opinion.
The Department of Justice joined the lawsuit but asked specifically that the rules on pre-existing illnesses be struck down. These rules prohibit health insurance companies from turning away sick customers, from charging them more for their illness, or from refusing to cover medical services associated with managing their condition.
Justice Department attorney Brett Schumate had asked that any changes to Obamacare by the court be delayed until 2020 given that the rates for next year are already set.