This Week in CHCACTion!
December 17, 2018
This Week in CHCACTivities
This weekend, while many of us were holiday shopping/preparing/celebrating, two important developments occurred with respect to the Affordable Care Act.
ACA Ruled Unconstitutional
First, on Friday evening, a federal judge in Texas, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor, ruled that the Affordable Care Act was not constitutional.
What is the lawsuit?
The case, Texas v United States, was filed in February, 2018 by 18 Republican state Attorneys General and 2 Republican Governors – subsequent to the December, 2017 tax law passed by Congress. That tax law removed the federal penalty for not having health insurance, starting in 2019; while the individual mandate officially still exists in statute, there is no longer a fine or tax for noncompliance. (You should still buy health insurance, though!)
Back in 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the ACA and, specifically, the individual mandate, citing that Congress has the right to establish taxes. So, the plaintiffs in the current case argued that, with the 2017 tax law’s removal of the tax/fine for noncompliance, the individual mandate was not constitutional. Instead of defending the law, the federal Justice Department sided with the plaintiffs and argued that several provisions of the ACA were inextricably linked to the individual mandate piece, and that those sections should be struck down as well.
What did the decision say?
Judge O’Connor ultimately ruled that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. Moreover, he ruled that the rest of the Affordable Care Act can not be separated out from the individual mandate – and therefore the entire law is not valid.
First off – know that nothing has changed yet. The Affordable Care Act is still in place as the law of the land. That is because another group of state Attorneys General (representing 17 states, including Connecticut) has already announced it will appeal the decision, to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. While the appeal is underway, the law remains in place. It is possible that the case will eventually end up back at the Supreme Court. Stay tuned.
Open Enrollment Extended
Meanwhile, unrelated to the lawsuit, Access Health CT announced on Saturday that it will extend the Open Enrollment period for buying health insurance to January 15th. Open Enrollment was expected to end on Saturday, so the extension is a welcome relief to those who had not yet purchased insurance for 2019! Access Health CT will hold three enrollment fairs over the next month, and, of course, CT’s health centers are ready to help with enrollment as well! Find a health center here.
Get in touch with any questions!
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This Week in Health Policy News
Here is a sampling of health policy news from around the state. If you see something in your local newspaper that you would like featured here in future weeks, please contact Deb Polun at email@example.com. Check out all the Health Policy News from the past month here!
12.13.18 Bristol Press — $150,000 Grant Will Help Bristol, Wheeler Clinic in Opioid Fight
12.11.18 New Haven Register — New Haven Gets $2.2 Million in Malloy’s Final Meeting (feat. Fair Haven Community Health Care)
12.11.18 The Hour — Hospitals Reduce ER Visits With Proactive Community Support (feat. Norwalk Community Health Center)
12.14.18 Hartford Business Journal — Connecticut Insurance Commissioner to Depart
12.13.18 CT Mirror — Advocates Warn Fiscal Caps Could Tighten on Social Services, Local Aid
12.11.18 CT Mirror — Shingles Vaccine Scarce in CT – Shortage to Continue
12.15.18 CT NewsJunkie — Access Health CT Extends Enrollment Deadline to January
12.15.18 CT Mirror — As Texas Judge Rules ACA “Invalid,” Access Health CT Extends 2019 Signup Period
12.14.18 CT NewsJunkie — Christian Health Sharing Provides Alternative to Health Insurance
12.13.18 Vox — We Read Democrats’ 8 Plans for Universal Health Care. Here’s How They Work.
12.17.18 Governing — “Ripe for an Outbreak” – Vaccine Exemptions Are On The Rise
12.16.18 CT Mirror — Nurse Denied Life Insurance Because She Carries Naloxone