A court decision could set a dangerous precedent for the ACA

Trump still wants to chip away at health care, but the Affordable Care Act is still the law.

By John Marth, UnidosUS Content Manager

Open enrollment for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act has officially begun, and you have until December 15 to secure coverage for 2020.

The ACA has been an important lifeline for people, leading to historical numbers of Americans with health coverage.

But despite the advancements the country has made to make sure we all have access to quality, affordable health care, the Trump administration has made attempt after attempt to dismantle the health care system since 2017. One of those attempts could become a reality soon.

Affordable Care Act | ACA | health | aca court case

Texas v. United States

Any day now, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in Texas is expected to rule in the lawsuit Texas v. United States, which is challenging the individual mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act. The court held oral arguments for the case last July and has been discussing it since.

The individual mandate, the requirement that all taxpayers either have health coverage or pay a tax, was reduced to zero in 2017 under the GOP tax bill. Still, the Texas v. United States case argues whether or not having the mandate at all is unconstitutional. If it’s ruled to be unconstitutional, the case could be used as a precedent to further dismantle the ACA.

Steven T. Lopez, Director of Health Policy at UnidosUS, points out that the case is the latest in a series of attacks against the U.S. health care system since 2017.

“The case is just another attack on the nation’s health care system by those more interested in tearing down the ACA than in improving it so that more Americans have access to quality, affordable health coverage,” he says.

Whatever the 5th Circuit decides, there’s a good chance it will be appealed, taking the case to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court would likely hear the case next spring or fall.

ACA is still the law

The Trump administration’s numerous attempts to repeal or dismantle the ACA has led to some confusion about the ACA’s overall status. No matter the decision that comes from the 5th Circuit, it’s important to remember that this year’s ACA open enrollment won’t be affected, and you have until December 15 to secure coverage for 2020.

Though the ACA has been a critical lifeline for those who previously had never had any kind of health care before, there are still gaps in coverage that need to be taken care of. The U.S. Census Bureau shows that nearly 18% of Latinos were still not insured last year, compared to 5.9% of non-Hispanic Whites. The ACA was created to give all Americans the security of health care, and until the number of uninsured Americans reaches zero, then the law needs to be strengthened, not dismantled.

“Despite this threat, we are not powerless,” Lopez says. “We have an opportunity under this Open Enrollment period to reach as many eligible people as possible. Champions in Congress are hard at work proposing legislation to improve the law. And with the 2020 election on the horizon, we can exercise our right to vote for those who would protect and strengthen our care rather than take it away.”

Again, the Affordable Care Act is still in effect and you can secure coverage for 2020 via the ACA Marketplace, and the UnidosUS website has resources to better understand the process.

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