On December 15, just hours before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) enrollment deadline, a Texas federal judge ruled the ACA unconstitutional.
The ruling was the result of a lawsuit brought by Republican leaders from 20 different states, including Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry. The suit alleged that the ACA’s requirement that people carry health insurance is unconstitutional.
According to U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, that is true. In 2017, Congress repealed the individual mandate that fined someone for not having health insurance, and Judge O’Connor ruled that without that, the entire law is unconstitutional.
The ruling now puts at risk 850,000 Louisiana residents who have pre-existing conditions. Judge O’Connor’s ruling puts their coverage at risk, as the ACA prevented insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions.
Governor John Bel Edwards called the lawsuit and Landry’s participation in it, “short-sighted,” noting that he intends to, “vigorously pursue legislation to protect individuals with pre-existing conditions from losing their health insurance.”
According to Gov. Edwards, it isn’t just people with pre-existing conditions who are at risk of losing their insurance. At least 480,000 people in Louisiana who receive health insurance through the state’s Medicaid expansion may also lose their coverage, putting many of the state’s working poor at risk. The expansion was another key component of the ACA.
In a letter to Louisiana House Speaker Taylor Barras (R), Gov. Edwards outlined proposed state legislation that carries many of the ACA’s key provisions, including protections for those with pre-existing conditions, allowing children to stay on parental health plans until age 26, and preventing caps on lifetime health benefits.
The lawsuit is now being appealed. Before being heard by the United States Supreme Court, the challenge would be heard in New Orleans’ 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Despite last week’s court ruling, the ACA is still the law and is still in effect until the appeals process is complete.
Jenn Bentley is a writer and editor originally from Cadiz, Kentucky. Her writing has been featured in publications such as The Examiner, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, and others. When she’s not writing or editing, Jenn spends her time raising money for Extra Life and advocating for autism awareness.