Today, a Texas lawsuit will be heard determining pivotal laws and regulations concerning the Affordable Care Act. Republican attorney generals, led by Texas’ Attorney General Ken Paxton, will go against the Democratic party, led by California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra, to debate the fate of the ACA. U.S District Judge Reed O’Connor will hear both sides and determine whether the health law should be put on hold while the case is being contested. GOP Plaintiffs are looking for a “preliminary injunction” on the law.
On February 18, 2018, both sides of the GOP filed the suit at the federal district court in the Northern District of Texas. According to Health Leaders Media, The GOP attorney general and two GOP governors argued “that because the Supreme Court upheld the ACA in 2012 by saying its requirement to carry insurance was a legitimate use of Congress’ taxing power, eliminating the tax penalty for failure to have health insurance makes the entire law unconstitutional.”
“Texans have known all along that Obamacare is unlawful and a divided Supreme Court’s approval rested solely on the flimsy support of Congress’ authority to tax,” Paxton said in a statement when the suit was filed. “Congress has now kicked that flimsy support from beneath the law.” According to Kaiser Health News, “The Republicans say that when Congress eliminated the penalty for not having health insurance as part of last year’s tax bill, lawmakers rendered the entire health law unconstitutional. The Democrats argue that’s not the case.”
Here’s what you need to know:
- Democratic attorneys general are protecting the law: In the case filing, the Justice Department did not agree with the plaintiffs in eliminating the tax penalty. Without the tax, the provisions of the law requiring insurance companies to insure people with preexisting conditions and not charge them more should fall, beginning in January 2019. Republicans are in favor of the entire law being invalidated but will accept the exclusion of the preexisting condition protections.
- Preliminary Injunction could halt the ACA temporarily: GOP plaintiffs want the law to be stopped instantly, Kaiser Health News states “both because individuals will make insurance decisions during fall open-enrollment periods and because the states cannot turn their employee insurance plans and Medicaid operations on a dime,” according to their brief.” If Judge O’Connor rules in favor of the Republican party, this could rapidly be appealed, if necessary in front of the Supreme Court.
- Congress is watching the case unfold. “This legislation is a common-sense solution that guarantees Americans with preexisting conditions will have health care coverage, regardless of how our judicial system rules on the future of Obamacare,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), the bill’s lead sponsor, in a statement. Critics quickly noticed that the bill doesn’t offer the same protections. While our health law does require coverage for all conditions, the GOP bill would insist insurers sell to consumers with preexisting conditions, but not that those policies cover those conditions or at the same cost.
- Eliminating the ACA would cause step cuts. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Health insurance isn’t the only vital benefit at risk. Eliminating the ACA will also cause steep cuts to critical public health programs.” More than $8 billion dollars in funding has been provided for broad public health services and disease prevention program. Moreover, the ACA has helped more than 20 million Americans obtain coverage and has largely provided resources for developing and testing new ways of improving the quality of healthcare through insurance.
- Kaiser Health News, September 4th2018:https://khn.org/news/democratic-gop-attorneys-general-square-off-in-texas-showdown-over-health-law/
- Modern Healthcare, September 1st, 2018: http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20180901/NEWS/180839973
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