RULING TO BE APPEALED TO SUPREME COURT
The Affordable Care Act, once ruled constitutional because of the “individual mandate” provision, has been now ruled unconstitutional by a Texas judge — due to that provision being eliminated.
Since the individual mandate penalty was dropped to $0, the Supreme Court’s ruling of the law is now a different one than was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, the judge reasoned.
U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor’s ruling came one day before the Friday deadline to sign up for 2019 health care coverage through the ACA’s marketplace. It was an answer to a lawsuit brought by Republican governors who said that without a penalty, there is no “tax.”
And without the “tax,” the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision that the “tax” made the law constitutional is no longer valid, argued the plaintiffs, a coalition of Republican-led states.
“[the] Individual Mandate can no longer be fairly read as an exercise of Congress’s Tax Power and is still impermissible under the Interstate Commerce Clause—meaning the Individual Mandate is unconstitutional,” O’Connor wrote.
The White House expects that the ruling will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but meanwhile, President Trump has called on Congress to replace the law that was signed by President Obama on March 23, 2010.
SIGN-UP DEADLINE ENDED DEC. 15
The sign-up deadline for coverage under the ACA for 2019 ended on Saturday. Across the nation, enrollment appears to have dropped for the second year in a row except for in a few pockets, (notably Connecticut) if numbers released as of Dec. 8 are an indication. The final enrollment numbers won’t be released until later this month by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Last year, 8.8 million people signed up for coverage under the federally run health insurance marketplace by the deadline. That number represents those signing up in the 39 states participating in the federal exchange. Adding the state-run exchanges, that number exceeded 11 million. In the prior year, the total enrolled was 12.2 million.
During open enrollment last year for coverage in 2018, some 21,000 enrolled, with 17,676 of those Alaskans eligible for financial assistance in paying for premiums. Over 5,000 applicants were enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP due to their lower incomes.