Texas Judge Rules ACA Unconstitutional; Endocrine Society Will Continue to Advocate for Access to Care

A federal judge in Texas struck down the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA), siding with a group of conservative states that argued the law is unconstitutional. At issue was whether the health law’s insurance mandate still compelled people to buy coverage after Congress reduced the penalty to zero dollars as part of the tax overhaul that President Trump signed last December after Republicans in Congress eliminated a key part of it.

When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the mandate as constitutional in 2012, it was based on Congress’s taxing power. Congress, the court said, could legally impose a tax penalty on people who do not have health insurance. But in this new case, the state of Texas and 19 other states argued that with the penalty eliminated, the individual mandate had become unconstitutional and that the rest of the law could not be severed from it.

“The ACA has already survived more than 70 unsuccessful repeal attempts and withstood scrutiny in the Supreme Court. Today’s misguided ruling will not deter us: our coalition will continue to fight in court for the health and wellbeing of all Americans.”

“Congress stated many times unequivocally — through enacted text signed by the President — that the Individual Mandate is ‘essential’ to the ACA,” Judge Reed O’Connor wrote in his ruling, “And this essentiality, the ACA’s text makes clear, means the mandate must work ‘together with the other provisions’ for the Act to function as intended.”

The White House issued a statement that said, “We expect this ruling will be appealed to the Supreme Count. Pending the appeal process, the law remains in place.” The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma also echoed that the law remains in place in an effort to reduce consumer confusion.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office has announced his state would appeal the ruling. California and other states had intervened to defend the 2010 healthcare law after the Trump administration declined to defend its provisions that guarantee coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, arguing that those provisions cannot be separated from the mandate.

“The ACA has already survived more than 70 unsuccessful repeal attempts and withstood scrutiny in the Supreme Court,” Becerra said in a statement. “Today’s misguided ruling will not deter us: our coalition will continue to fight in court for the health and wellbeing of all Americans.”

The Endocrine Society will continue to advocate to ensure that our patients have access to affordable, high-quality insurance coverage, preventive services, and patient-centered care.

The federal court’s decision could also set off a scramble in Congress, where some lawmakers want to step in to defend the decision. In the House of Representatives, Democrats who will take control of the chamber in January hope to pass a package to strengthen pre-existing conditions protections and plan to vote to become a party to the case early next year.

The Endocrine Society will continue to advocate to ensure that our patients have access to affordable, high-quality insurance coverage, preventive services, and patient-centered care. Since the ACA was enacted, we have called for some improvements to law, but also called on Congress to not repeal the health law unless an adequate replacement was agreed upon to avoid harm to those who depend on the ACA.

Please visit our Access to Care web page at endocrine.org/advocacy/priorities-and-positions/access-to-care to see our position statements and multiple letters to the administration and congress.

If you have any questions or concerns about the ACA, please contact govt-prof@endocrine.org.

 

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