Parts of Obamacare deemed unconstitutional by DOJ
Thursday, June 14, 2018
Ever since the 2010 Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — went into effect, it has been entrenched in court battles.
Original provisions in the law created health insurance marketplaces where those who were previously uninsured could find insurance plans that were now mandated under the new healthcare law. However, if Americans chose not to get health insurance, they faced a potential penalty.
In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Congress’ ability to fine those who did not get health insurance as it deemed the financial penalty basically a tax. Although seen as a major victory for the law’s creators at the time, states continued to lobby for critical changes and repeals of various aspects of the new reforms.
However, on June 7, the Justice Department said that the requirement for people to have insurance — the individual mandate — was unconstitutional. This comes as a result of a court case filed by Texas and 19 other states.
Although the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate, Congress repealed that tax in 2017, so therefore the mandate can no longer be justified, said the Justice Department.
Other provisions of the Affordable Care Act are getting tangled into this decision.
Currently, as many as 130 million Americans are currently protected under the pre-existing health condition pillar of the Affordable Care Act. This allows those insured to have the freedom to change jobs without fear of losing their health care coverage due to a pre-existing condition. Although this was a bipartisan supported aspect of the law, it is unclear if President Trump with continue to preserve this critical element.
Despite the blow, other areas will remain untouched — such as premium subsides for low- and moderate-income people, Medicaid expansion and changes in Medicare and public health services. Although the original case argued that all of the regulations were invalid, the Justice Department noted those areas were not affected by the individual mandate and would continue to operate.
Despite the new decision, the Justice Department is requesting the courts to keep the pre-existing provision protection in place through 2018. The District of Columbia and 16 other states are already trying to defend the original law, therefore making it likely it will be argued again before the Supreme Court.
However, with all this uncertainty, it is likely that this will give insurance companies another reason to raise rates.
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