A federal judge in Texas ruled Friday evening that key components of the Affordable Care Act -better known as Obamacare- were unconstitutional; saying the "entire health-care law" violates federal law. The decision is nearly certain to be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: "We expect this ruling will be appealed to the Supreme Court".
Twenty states, including Texas, backed the lawsuit, which asked the judge to call for a cease and desist to Obamacare enforcement.
"Today's ruling is an assault on 133 million Americans with preexisting conditions, on the 20 million Americans who rely on the ACA's consumer protections for health care, and on America's faithful progress toward affordable health care for all Americans", California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.
Since the suit was filed in January, many health-law specialists have viewed its logic as weak but nevertheless have regarded the case as the greatest looming legal threat to the 2010 law, which has been a GOP whipping post ever since and assailed repeatedly in the courts.
O'Connor's decision was issued the day before the end of a 45-day sign-up period for 2019 health coverage under the law. O'Connor said in September that he would rule "as quickly as I can" - and ultimately ruled on the eve of the deadline.
Ending the act would eliminate current protections for those with pre-existing conditions, such as pregnancy, arthritis and diabetes.
Earlier this year, 10 Senate Republicans introduced a bill that would guarantee access to insurance plans for patients with pre-existing conditions, although Democrats have criticized the measure for not going far enough to cover certain conditions.
Democratic leaders, meanwhile, reacted harshly to the decision.
"If this very bad ruling is upheld in the higher courts, it will be a disaster for tens of millions of American families, especially for people with pre-existing conditions", said Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.
It is unclear what will happen to the law's many provisions until an appeal reaches the Supreme Court.
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise boasted his chamber passed a law to replace Obamacare in May 2017, however, leaving the situation in chaos.
"We do have contingency plans", she said then.