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Court declares Obamacare individual mandate unconstitutional

Court likely to rule ACA unconstitutional

A federal appeals court has determined the individual mandate in the nation's health care law is unconstitutional. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals announced the decision on Obamacare Wednesday, sending the case back to a lower court in Texas to determine whether other parts of the Affordable Care Act can continue to exist. 

The Trump administration has already stopped enforcing the penalty for individuals not purchasing health insurance, and Mr. Trump has claimed his administration eliminated the individual mandate. 

"Today's decision in Texas v. Azar is a win for all Americans and confirms what I have said all along: that the individual mandate, by far the worst element of Obamacare, is unconstitutional," the president said in a statement. "This decision will not alter the current healthcare system. My administration continues to work to provide access to high-quality healthcare at a price you can afford, while strongly protecting those with pre-existing conditions. The radical healthcare changes being proposed by the far left would strip Americans of their current coverage. I will not let this happen. Providing affordable, high-quality healthcare will always be my priority. They are trying to take away your healthcare, and I am trying to give the American people the best healthcare in the world."

Congress essentially eliminated the individual mandate as part of its tax cut legislation in 2017. Effective this year, the penalty now is $0. That means that this particular aspect of the ruling has no practical significance. 

But in ruling the individual mandate unconstitutional, the question is whether the rest of the law has to be struck down, as well. The district court will now consider that question — whether the other aspects of the law can remain in place. 

There will be more legal wrangling ahead before it is at all clear what this decision means for the law, if anything.

A source on the plane with the president en route to a rally in Michigan told CBS News White House correspondent Paula Reid the decision gives the president something to smile about on the day he is expected to be impeached. Undoing Obamacare was one of Mr. Trump's key campaign promises. 

Read the ruling below here: 

Jan Crawford and Kathryn Watson contributed to this report.

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