Affordable Care Act is at Risk! --RSS Feed

By Brian Peters, Community Access and Policy Specialist, IndependenceFirst

In December of 2018, a notorious anti-Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as “Obamacare”) judge in Texas ruled that the entire law was invalid.  His reasoning was that since the law’s individual mandate was “unconstitutional” because Congress reduced the penalty for not having insurance to zero dollars (and therefore, not a use of Congress’s taxing power), that meant the entire law was therefore unconstitutional. The appeals court in December 2019 relied on the strange interpretation that because Congress didn’t mean what they plainly did when they killed the penalty but not the rest of the law, there might be parts of the law that should be invalid.  Even though Congress could’ve said that, but didn’t. They then told the Texan judge (the one that wanted to kill the entire law) to consider what parts of the ACA is connected with the mandate, and should be removed.  This ruling shocked many legal scholars because Courts usually defer to Congress’ intentions when passing a law, and here, it is very obvious what Congress intended – to remove only the penalty for the individual mandate, and not the rest of the law.

Having the ACA hanging in limbo while the legal battles are fought creates much uncertainty. Patients and the health care companies will not know what to expect next year.  Supporters of the ACA are asking the Supreme Court to immediately review their challenge to the Appeals Court and to decide the issue to remove that uncertainty and fear.

Killing ACA in defiance of Congress’ intentions would create chaos in the healthcare marketplace, and cause millions to lose access to their healthcare insurance.  Others will see previously covered costs suddenly show up on their bills.

Here are some things that are at stake for the disability community:

•    61 million Americans have a disability.  Without ACA, their coverage could be denied, dropped, or be charged a higher rate.
•    Nationally, nearly 45% of adults with disabilities have Medicaid coverage, 64% of them through Medicaid expansion.
•    Medicaid expansion led to coverage for 710,000 children in 31 states (the other states refused to do Medicaid expansion).
•    17 million people are at risk of losing access to healthcare if Medicaid expansion is struck down.
•    Rural hospitals in states with Medicaid expansion are surviving while many rural hospitals in states without Medicaid expansion have been closing.  Killing the ACA will endanger many rural hospitals, and make access to healthcare difficult for many people with disabilities who cannot travel a long distance to the next hospital.
•    Pre-existing conditions is an important part of ACA.  People with pre-existing conditions – such as many people with disabilities - cannot be denied insurance or charged outrageous rates.  This protection would be gone.
•    Insurance companies would again be able to have lifetime caps on coverage. If your medical needs exceed that cap, you’re on your own without any more help from the insurance company.  About half of non-elderly Americans – as many as 135 million - have a pre-existing condition such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, behavioral health disorders, asthma, arthritis, etc.  Insurance companies could also screen out people with disabilities again and deny them coverage.
•    ACA requires coverage for preventive care such as flu shots, cancer screenings, mammograms, etc.  People could once again be required to pay for those.  People who cannot afford to will be at risk.

People should be aware that their healthcare coverage is at risk because of efforts to eliminate the Affordable Care Act.  This will impact not just people who receive healthcare coverage through the marketplace, but also those in states with Medicaid expansion.  Even people with insurance through their employer would be impacted when pre-existing conditions protections are eliminated, and when they are charged higher rates because of their disability or pre-existing conditions.

Please talk with your Congressional Representative and Senators about how important the ACA is to you. Tell people you know that ACA is at risk.  Insist that the Supreme Court has to take up this case immediately.

Note: Wisconsin, until last month in December, was a party to the lawsuit against the ACA. The Evers Administration withdrew Wisconsin from the lawsuit.

| Friday, 1/10/2020 - 9:17 AM | 0 comments
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