ACA Mandate Under Scrutiny But Still in Effect

Last modified: December 19, 2019

A part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was ruled unconstitutional in New Orleans’ federal appeals court. The decision, made on Wednesday, did not completely overthrow the healthcare law but it offered a partial victory to President Trump and other Republicans.

The ruling was based on the 2012 ACA case that threatened to remove insurance protection and health plans from millions of Americans. In the 2012 case, liberal justices agreed that requiring Americans to have insurance must go on since the penalty for not doing so could be considered as a tax. 

Meanwhile, the latest ACA case focused on the provision of the 2017 tax bill that removed a tax penalty on uninsured Americans. The problem was the tax bill didn’t change the technical requirement of the healthcare law — Americans should get coverage. This is also known as the ACA’s individual mandate. 

The latest ACA case would undergo further proceedings under the supervision of a federal district judge in Texas. Nevertheless, ACA remains in effect. The final ruling is expected to be issued after the 2020 presidential elections. 

Several Republican state attorneys in Texas, the Trump administration, and 17 other conservative-leaning states joined forces to challenge the healthcare law. Meanwhile, California and a group of democratic states defended the ACA. 

After Wednesday’s ruling, the Democrats expressed their dismay regarding the court’s ruling. They said that it would create more uncertainties in the healthcare system. According to House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, the ruling was a grave threat to millions of Americans with pre-existing medical conditions and families that depend on the ACA for life-saving protections. She added that the ruling should not hold families back from signing up or enrolling for health coverage that they need. 

Trump, on the other hand, already called the ruling a “win” but he clarified in a statement that the decision wouldn’t make changes to the current healthcare system. 

If Trump and the Republicans “win” the case, health coverage would be stripped from 20 million Americans. Other protections provided by the law would be eliminated as well. These include prescription drug assistance for seniors and a rule that enables young people to be covered by their parents’ health plans until they’re 26. 

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