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Affordable Care Act: Fixer Upper or Tear Down?

Affordable Care Act

By Isobella Harkrider

Nearly everyone in Texas is affected by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In 2018, Attorney General Ken Paxton led a 20-state coalition lawsuit against the federal government which claimed the ACA’s individual mandate was unconstitutional. A Texas federal judge ruled in Paxton’s favor, arguing that “the law’s individual mandate is unconstitutional after Congress zeroed out the penalty associated with it in the tax bill in late 2017.” 

Nearly everyone in Texas is affected by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In 2018, Attorney General Ken Paxton led a 20-state coalition lawsuit against the federal government which claimed the ACA’s individual mandate was unconstitutional. A Texas federal judge ruled in Paxton’s favor, arguing that “the law’s individual mandate is unconstitutional after Congress zeroed out the penalty associated with it in the tax bill in late 2017.” 

The decision was appealed, and in July 2019, the case went to a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for oral arguments. A decision by the Fifth Circuit has yet to be made, which means the ACA remains the law, for now.

Although the law’s future status is unclear, many state healthcare advocates warn about the consequences of losing the law without a plan to replace it. The Kaiser Family Foundation notes that “many of the provisions are of concern,” including protections for people with pre-existing conditions, creation of insurance marketplaces, and premium subsidies for low and modest income people.”

In addition to these concerns, the law would affect young adults up to age 26 covered under their parents’ insurance, and protections for lactating mothers would be in question. 

In 2019, during the open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act, more Texans signed up than in 2018, despite the Trump administration’s drastic cut in awareness funding.  The Austin American-Stateman shares,”…demand for 2020 health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — appeared to be solid.” When it comes to the current enrollment of ACA, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin stated, “The Affordable Care Act has emerged bruised but not broken.” He believes Republican leaders in Texas are undermining the law “that millions of people depend upon…” and calls the Lone Star State,“the uninsured capital of America” for all ages. 

Reform Austin shared this past November that Texas continues to be the state with the highest rate of children without health insurance. When a child is approved for Medicaid, they are covered for six months. At the conclusion of that six-month period, the state requires parents to file income updates monthly to continue the coverage.”

Though public opinion shows that Americans believe the ACA is very important, top Texas officials remain steadfast in their opposition, which explains why “Texas uses the federally run exchange at HealthCare.gov, and the state has taken a very hands-off approach with regards to implementing the ACA,” according to HealthInsurance.org.

While Texans wait on the courts’ decision for the ACA, healthcare could become an important sticking point for legislators running in 2020. 
As Christopher Hooks said in Texas Monthly, “If the Affordable Care Act goes down, sick people will be out of luck until lawmakers get their act together—and no one ever went broke underestimating the Texas Lege.”

Nearly everyone in Texas is affected by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In 2018, Attorney General Ken Paxton led a 20-state coalition lawsuit against the federal government which claimed the ACA’s individual mandate was unconstitutional. A Texas federal judge ruled in Paxton’s favor, arguing that “the law’s individual mandate is unconstitutional after Congress zeroed out the penalty associated with it in the tax bill in late 2017.” 

The decision was appealed, and in July 2019, the case went to a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for oral arguments. A decision has yet to be made, which means the ACA remains the law, for now.

Although the law’s future status is unclear, many state healthcare advocates warn about the consequences of losing the law without a plan to replace it. The Kaiser Family Foundation notes that “many of the provisions are of concern,” including protections for people with pre-existing conditions, creation of insurance marketplaces, and premium subsidies for low and modest income people.”

In addition to these concerns, the law would affect young adults up to age 26 covered under their parents’ insurance, and protections for lactating mothers would be in question. 

In 2019, during the open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act, more Texans signed up than in 2018, despite the Trump administration’s drastic cut in awareness funding.  The Austin American-Stateman shares,”…demand for 2020 health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — appeared to be solid.” When it comes to the current enrollment of ACA, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin stated, “The Affordable Care Act has emerged bruised but not broken.” He believes Republican leaders in Texas are undermining the law “that millions of people depend upon…” and calls the Lone Star State,“the uninsured capital of America” for all ages. 

Reform Austin shared this past November that Texas continues to be the state with the highest rate of children without health insurance. When a child is approved for Medicaid, they are covered for six months. At the conclusion of that six-month period, the state requires parents to file income updates monthly to continue the coverage.”

Though public opinion shows that Americans believe the ACA is very important, top Texas officials remain steadfast in their opposition, which explains why “Texas uses the federally run exchange at HealthCare.gov, and the state has taken a very hands-off approach with regards to implementing the ACA,” according to HealthInsurance.org.

While Texans wait on the courts’ decision for the ACA, healthcare could become an important sticking point for legislators running in 2020. 
As Christopher Hooks said in Texas Monthly, “If the Affordable Care Act goes down, sick people will be out of luck until lawmakers get their act together—and no one ever went broke underestimating the Texas Lege.”

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