A Texas lawsuit trying to declare the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unconstitutional won’t go over well with the public if it prevails. While it took a while for folks to warm up to the 2010 health law, recent polling finds a majority of the public now favors Obamacare.
Notwithstanding the real problems with the U.S. health care system, especially as compared to the rest of the developed world, the ACA made health care more accessible for more people — and they feel it. A new Kaiser Family Foundation study outlines all the ways the public favors the ACA:
- 82 percent favor the provision that allows adults up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ plans
- 82 percent favor the health insurance exchanges
- 81 percent favor federal subsidies for health plans offered on the exchanges
- 81 percent favor the closing of the Medicare gap for prescription plans, or the so-called “donut-hole”
- 79 percent favor the elimination of out-of-pocket costs for a lot of preventative services
- 77 percent favor Medicaid expansion
— Ashley Kirzinger (@AshleyKirzinger) December 19, 2018
This wasn’t always the case. Politics plagued the law since its inception, which contributed to its initial unpopularity. Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, for example, said the ACA would create “death panels” in a 2009 Facebook post and many — including medical providers — believed her.
This isn’t to say all critiques of the law are political. People who don’t get insurance through work and qualify for federal subsidies saw their premiums increase because insurers are now paying for sick people’s care. The ACA also didn’t resolve underlying problems with the health care system — another reason people critiqued the law as not going far enough.
The ACA garnered considerable support after Republicans introduced health bills that would have left millions more uninsured. It also become apparent that repealing the law would impact a lot of people, as the ACA is entangled in nearly every part of the health care system — including the Trump administration’s own health proposals.
The irony is Congress hobbled the most unpopular part of the health law, the individual mandate, and this is why the ACA is in trouble.
Texas and 19 other red states say the law became unconstitutional when lawmakers reduced the tax penalty for not having insurance to $0. District Judge Reed O’Connor agreed with them last week, and said he didn’t believe the mandate was separable from other ACA provisions like free flu shots.
If he clarifies that his decision means the entire health law is no longer enforceable starting January 1st, when the individual mandate is zeroed out, it could upend the system and hurt a lot of people at the start of the new year. Blue states that intervened in the lawsuit — because the Trump administration refused to defend the law in court — asked the judge to issue a ruling clarifying his initial decision by Friday and to not enforce it pending appeal.