Washington, DC – This evening, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled that without the enforcement of the individual mandate, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unconstitutional in its entirety. While the decision is expected to be appealed to the 5th Circuit Court, Judge Reed O’Connor’s ruling, clouded by his ultra-conservative history, will undoubtedly cause confusion and real harm to consumers who stand to lose coverage if his ruling is upheld.
In response to today’s ruling, Erin Hemlin, Director of Training and Consumer Education for Young Invincibles, issued the following statement:
“Today’s court ruling is a devastating blow to all consumers, the nation’s health care system, and our national economy. By striking down the Affordable Care Act, the health care of 20 million Americans – including more than 8 million young people – is put into jeopardy and with it the health and well-being of every community.
The ACA has become a cornerstone of our health care system by allowing young adults to stay on their parent’s plan until the age of 26, guaranteeing access to coverage for people with preexisting conditions, making coverage more affordable, expanding Medicaid coverage, and requiring that plans cover services that consumers want and need. Thanks to these historic protections, the uninsured rate for young adults has been cut in half since 2010.
Judge O’Connor argues that without the penalty imposed by the individual mandate, a concerted and political move included in the 2018 Republican tax bill with the intent to undermine the ACA, the entire Affordable Care Act is no longer valid. This seemingly narrow ruling could have far reaching consequences, destroying almost a decade of progress in getting Americans insured, and ignoring the overwhelming support for the ACA that drove millions of voters to the polls in November.
Polls consistently show that Americans don’t want to go back to the dark ages of unaffordable health plans that don’t cover the services people need. While this decision will certainly be appealed to the 5th Circuit Court and the fight is far from over, Judge O’Connor’s ruling will cause confusion and real harm to young people who stand to lose their coverage.
The timing of this ruling, one day before the end of the annual open enrollment period, is blatantly politically-motivated with an aim to curb enrollment. While we expect this case is bound for the Supreme Court, the administration should immediately reassure all ACA marketplace shoppers that their 2019 coverage will remain in place to blunt this unnecessary panic and confusion the millions of people who rely on the ACA will likely be feeling.
After years of attempts to undermine and sabotage the law, judges and legislators alike must recognize that the American people value their coverage and they can’t afford to lose the protections of the Affordable Care Act.”
Eighteen Republican state Attorneys General and two Republican Governors led by Texas’ Attorney General Ken Paxton argued that once Congress repealed the individual mandate in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the law was rendered unconstitutional. The AGs argued that without the mandiate, the rest of the law is “inseverable” and therefore cannot stand. Judge Reed O’Connor ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, striking down the health care law.