Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Texas ruling on Affordable Care Act won't affect your coverage, officials say

Posted By on Tue, Dec 18, 2018 at 2:02 PM

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According to a federal judge in Texas, the Affordable Care Act should go.

U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor of Fort Worth delivered a victory to conservatives Dec. 14, ruling that the individual mandate was unconstitutional, and that the remaining provisions of the Affordable Care Act were "inseverable" and therefore "invalid." The ruling ended (for now) a months-long court battle between a group of Republican-led states who had sued the United States and a group of intervening Democrat-led states.

Colorado wasn't involved in the lawsuit. But state officials want residents to know that this decision won't affect them anytime soon.

"This decision will now be part of a long, drawn-out legal process, as it will be appealed and likely work its way to the U.S. Supreme Court," reads a statement from the Colorado Division of Insurance. "And the Trump administration is assuring the country that the ACA will remain in force during the appeals process."

(Those assurances came separately from the president's tweet.)


State officials also sought to reassure Coloradans with pre-existing conditions.

“I said it in June when this case first bubbled up, and I’ll say it again: Guaranteed health insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions is enshrined in Colorado law,”  interim Insurance Commissioner Michael Conway is quoted in the statement. “The Division of Insurance will continue to enforce Colorado law and maintain this important protection for our citizens."

Open enrollment for people who buy individual health insurance plans ends Jan. 15. Visit Connect for Health Colorado for more information and to enroll.

While many Republicans, including Colorado's Sen. Cory Gardner and Rep. Doug Lamborn, remained silent on the ruling, Democrats were quick to make their disapproval known. Sen. Michael Bennet issued the following statement Dec. 15:

“For years, Republicans have tried to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. After trying and failing over 70 times to repeal the bill without offering a replacement, Republicans added a provision to last year's disastrous tax bill to sabotage the individual mandate, providing the argument used in the Texas court's ruling.

“The ACA is not perfect, but it has provided health care coverage to millions of Coloradans and Americans with preexisting conditions and coverage for essential health benefits. Republicans should abandon their efforts to attack the ACA and instead work with Democrats to fix its flaws, so that we can provide quality, affordable health care coverage to every American.”

And the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, a nonpartisan membership-based advocacy organization, issued a forceful rebuke.

“This unprecedented attack and irresponsible Republican lawsuit is the biggest threat for consumers in the Trump Administration’s relentless efforts to sabotage the ACA,” Adam Fox, director of strategic engagement, is quoted in the organization's statement. “This court case could strip more than 600,000 Coloradans of the health coverage they need, throw the insurance market into chaos, and leave our state budget in crisis."

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