On Friday, a District Court Judge in Texas ruled the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional. This has left many wondering what this means for the healthcare industry as a whole, as well as the millions who are covered by the ACA, especially those with pre-existing conditions.
This, however, was only a portion of the case. This ruling has to do with the individual mandate that required individuals to pay a penalty if they were not enrolled with a Healthcare plan. This rolls back to the large tax cut bill that reduced the penalty to $0. It is this $0 penalty that is being listed as “impermissible under the Interstate Commerce Clause – meaning the Individual Mandate is unconstitutional.”
The state attorneys general that brought the case before the court have until January 4th to propose solutions to the rest of the case that declares the ACA unconstitutional. That said, January 1, 2019, the new ruling goes into effect. For now, that means there are no immediate changes to an individual’s insurance plan. Considering the appeals process, and Democratic House taking control in January, it is a safe bet that there will be no change to the plans and coverage themselves over the next year as the ruling will face a barrage of proposed legislation and appeals.
There are also a lot of inherent protections in place in the ACA. ACA Legal Expert Tim Jost states, “The easiest thing for Congress to do right now is re-instate a $1 individual mandate penalty…” By re-instating a low-value dollar amount to the penalty, it would negate the recent court ruling based on the new tax laws.
Additional pieces of the ACA are still up in the air, particularly around the subject of Medicaid expansion. We will most certainly be watching developments of this case closely and will continue to report any updates as they are announced.
Source: Modern Healthcare