Currently, Florida has the 4th highest uninsured population in the country. In 2019, Florida's uninsured rate was 13.2 percent versus the national average of 9.2 percent. During the pandemic, the state’s uninsured rate reached as high as 25%. (US Census & Families USA). However, the situation would be significantly worse without the Affordable Care Act. Since the first open enrollment period, Florida has led the country in ACA enrollment. This includes in 2020 when 1.9 million signed up for a Marketplace plan.
This avenue to health coverage for millions of Floridians faced a major threat in the latest US Supreme Court case challenging the constitutionality of the law. Fortunately, the justices upheld the law on a 7-2 vote citing that the challengers lacked standing to sue.
Led by the state of Texas, the challengers keyed in on the ACA tax penalty meant to encourage Americans to purchase health coverage. They argued that the 2017 tax cut, which zeroed out the penalty, made that provision unconstitutional. Without the tax penalty, they argued, the ACA was no longer constitutional and that the entire law should be invalidated by the court. The justices did not even address those issues in their decision.
The latest ruling is a huge victory for all Americans, including the 23 million Americans and nearly 2 million Floridians who were in immediate danger of losing their health care.
People across Florida have had their lives transformed by the ACA and worry much less about going bankrupt when they get sick. This includes Kyla M., 46 year old mother of 2 from St. Lucie County. According to Kyla, “At age 43 I was diagnosed with Triple Negative breast cancer. This is the most difficult of all breast cancers to treat.”
After being uninsured for years, Kyla now considers her decision to sign up for a Marketplace plan in 2014 to be one that saved her life. “I made the decision to purchase health insurance through the ACA. Luckily the insurance company was not able to discriminate against me for having a pre-existing condition,” she explains.
The ACA has been the law of the land for more than a decade and benefits all Americans. Instead of trying to take health care away from tens of millions of people, it’s time to build on the ACA’s successes and make improvements that will make health care more affordable and accessible.