The reaction to a Friday court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, among Texas’ Democratic and Republican political leaders was mostly swift — and decidedly divided.
Some Texas Democrats, including Congressman Marc Veasey and incoming state Sen. Beverly Powell, reacted with dismay and messages of hope.
Powell, of Burleson, said in a statement that she hopes U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor’s ruling will be overturned, saying that it puts 4.5 million Texans with pre-existing health conditions at risk.
“With access to quality, affordable health care under attack by federal judges, it’s time for Texas lawmakers to come together and find common-sense solutions to protect Texans with pre-existing conditions and expand access to health care by expanding Medicaid and seeking Texas-focused solutions to solve our health care needs,” Powell said.
U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey of Fort Worth sent a message of hope to his nearly 20,000 Twitter followers Friday night.
“The ACA is still intact. Today’s ruling could jeopardize the healthcare of millions of Americans who rely on the ACA,” Veasey said.
“While this is a setback, the ACA has endured 70 repeal attempts and we will continue to fight to protect every family who deserves access to affordable care.”
Veasey then encouraged his followers to continue to sign up for health care plans through the ACA website, healthcare.gov.
Texas Democratic Party Gilberto Hinojosa issued a statement Saturday morning on Twitter partly aimed at Paxton.
“It is sick that indicted Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton, who would be covered by universal healthcare during a potential 99 year prison sentence for felony fraud, would lead the charge to strip away healthcare coverage from Texans,” Hinojosa said.
Paxton faces three charges of felony securities fraud.
Notably, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who recently visited the U.S.-Mexico border to visit with asylum seekers, had not issued a statement as of late Saturday morning. His office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Also, U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas had not issued a statement and couldn’t be reached for her reaction.
The Tarrant County and Dallas County branches of the Democratic Party had not made statements by late Saturday morning.
Attorney General Ken Paxton, who filed a lawsuit against the ACA, broke the news on Twitter and Facebook, writing, “BREAKING: Texas Federal judge rules Obamacare unconstitutional!”
He then said in a statement, “Today’s ruling enjoining Obamacare halts an unconstitutional exertion of federal power over the American health care system while our multistate coalition lawsuit works its way through the courts.
“Our lawsuit seeks to effectively repeal Obamacare, which will give President Trump and Congress the opportunity to replace the failed social experiment with a plan that ensures Texans and all Americans will again have greater choice about what health coverage they need and who will be their doctor,” Paxton said.
U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess of Lake Dallas said Saturday morning on Twitter that “Obamacare isn’t working for the American people.”
The former obstetrician/gynecologist said, “This ruling will be challenged; nevertheless, Congress should use this opportunity to deliver health reform that puts patients first.”
Sen. John Cornyn did not comment on social media about the ruling, but has said in the past, “Obamacare is bad for everyone in the country, which is why I have fought it at every turn.”
The office of U.S. Rep. Kay Granger of Fort Worth did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did she comment about the ruling on social media. She called the ACA’s individual mandate provision “burdensome” in a column for the Star-Telegram in June.
The Center for the American Future at the Texas Public Policy Foundation praised the ruling as a victory in a statement Saturday. The press release included a quote from attorney Robert Henneke, general counsel on the case and director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
“Today’s historic win striking down Obamacare is only the first step,” Henneke said in the press release. “We need to focus on the future and look to states like Texas to lead in restoring the relationship between doctor and patient, unencumbered by government and insurance company red tape. Let’s focus on solutions that will drive down costs and restore choice in doctor.”
Major Republican groups in Tarrant and Dallas County had not commented about the ruling on social media early Saturday afternoon.
Staff writer Kaley Johnson contributed to this report.
Stephen English: 817-390-7330, @sbenglish74