Last week, District Court Judge Reed O’Connor in Texas v. Azar, the latest legal challenge to the ACA, issued a ruling declaring the entirety of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unconstitutional. Siding with the conservative state officials from 20 states, he found that the individual mandate penalty is so central to the ACA that without it, the entire ACA is unconstitutional. The individual mandate was effectively repealed as part of last year’s tax reform bill. Judge O’Connor’s ruling contradicts two prior Supreme Court rulings upholding the constitutionality of the ACA
For a refresher on the lawsuit and the arguments being made, check out this Health Affairs Blog post here and Vox’s coverage here.
Striking down the entirety of the ACA would also strip away many consumer protections enshrined within the law and beloved by the public, including:
Prohibitions on charging women or older adults more for the same policy as men or younger people,
The elimination of out-of-pocket expenses for many preventive services, and
Protections for young people under the age of 27 to stay on a parent’s health plan.
What happens now? It’s important to remember that despite the questionable ruling, this case is far from over. The ruling will be appealed and in the meantime the ACA remains intact.
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