Texas Democrat, Republican reactions to Obamacare ruling couldn’t be more different

The reaction to a court ruling Friday on the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, among Texas’ Democratic and Republican political leaders was mostly swift — and decidedly divided.

Republican 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.”

Republican 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 Republican 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.

Major Republican groups in Tarrant and Dallas County had not commented about the ruling on social media early Saturday afternoon.

Some Texas Democrats, including Congressman Marc Veasey of Fort Worth and incoming state Sen. Beverly Powell, reacted with dismay and messages of hope. Others did not immediately react or comment.

Powell, of Burleson, said in a statement that she hopes U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor’s ruling that the ACA is no longer legal 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.

Veasey 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 chairman 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.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who recently visited the U.S.-Mexico border to meet with asylum seekers, had not issued a statement as of late Saturday morning. His office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Also, Democratic 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.

Staff writer Kaley Johnson contributed to this report.

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Stephen English covers breaking news for the Star-Telegram. He attended Texas Wesleyan University and has lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for more than 30 years.