Lawsuit to overturn ACA continues
by jerry on July 19, 2020
The current White House administration recently reiterated support for a lawsuit that seeks to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Although Congress did not vote to overturn the ACA outright, it did vote to eliminate the penalty for individuals who do not have health insurance (the penalty is known as the individual mandate). Earlier, there was a separate suit alleging that Congress lacked constitutional authority to pass the ACA. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that the individual mandate was in fact a tax (although not so named), and that Congress indeed had constitutional authority to levy taxes. Hence, this current suit argues that since the individual mandate was repealed, the ACA is no longer a tax, and therefore the current form of the ACA is unconstitutional. If the ACA is found to be unconstitutional, health insurance companies could start denying coverage to patients who have pre-existing conditions. Kaiser Health News offered an analysis on whether pre-existing conditions can list COVID-19 as a reason for denial.
While the ACA was deeply unpopular with certain segments of the US population at the time of passage, parts of the bill have grown in popularity since then. For example, people have appreciated being able to sign up for insurance despite any conditions they might have had before. Likewise, Medicaid has expanded, despite several states' initial resistance. While the current White House administration would consider the overturning of the ACA as a victory, the current pandemic could render such a decision deeply unpopular since many people who are vulnerable might then be unable to secure health insurance coverage. By the time that the Supreme Court decides on this case, the political landscape could have changed enough such that victory for the plaintiffs could be very costly politically.