Gov.-elect Janet Mills has vowed to fight against a ruling from a federal judge in Texas that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.

“This is a backward, poorly-reasoned decision, but it does not change the fact that the Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land,” Mills said in a statement Saturday.

Mills has vowed to immediately expand Medicaid coverage for Mainers, a provision allowed by federal health care law.

“I pledge to the people of Maine that, as their governor, I will fight not only to preserve and protect their health care, but also to work with the Legislature to strengthen it.”

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, in a 55-page opinion Friday, said the elimination last year of a requirement for individuals to have health insurance made the entire law invalid. The Affordable Care Act was the signature legislation of President Barack Obama’s administration. The ruling was applauded by the White House, but spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the Affordable Care Act remains the law pending an appeal.

Supporters of the law, sometimes called Obamacare, said they will appeal the ruling. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the leader of a coalition supporting the health care law, called the ruling “misguided” and said the coalition would fight to preserve it.

O’Connor ruled on a lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and supported by 18 other Republican attorneys generals, as well as Maine Gov. Paul LePage.

LePage’s office did not respond to a request for comment Saturday.

Jared Golden, a Democrat recently elected to represent Maine’s 2nd District in the U.S. House of Representatives, said the ruling could threaten coverage for millions of Americans and undermine protections for people with preexisting conditions.

“In Congress, I will work to protect and improve health coverage and fight any efforts to take health care away from hardworking Maine people,” Golden said in a statement Saturday.

The ruling came one day before the deadline to sign up for health care coverage through the insurance exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act.

In a Tweet Saturday morning, Sen Angus King, I-Maine, noted the court ruling would not affect consumers buying insurance.

“Yesterday’s Texas court ruling on the ACA was extremely concerning, but it WILL NOT impact ACA plans for 2019,” King said.

Reps. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District and Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the ruling.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins did not respond directly, but a spokeswoman sent a copy of a letter Collins wrote in June to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, asking him to reconsider his decision not to defend the Affordable Care Act against the Texas lawsuit.

 


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