Oral arguments were presented to a Texas judge Wednesday in a case centered on the constitutionality of the ACA’s individual mandate brought by Texas and 19 other GOP-led states, including Arizona. The Department of Justice (DOJ) won’t defend the ACA but also argues that the entire law should not be dismantled right away. Even if not entirely repealed, Texas Attorney general Ken Paxton has advocated for eliminating the ACA’s pre-existing conditions protections, as they are connected to the mandate.
While lawyers for the GOP coalition of states want the ACA to be overturned immediately, the federal government has warned such an injunction “could throw the health care markets into chaos move,” Justice Department Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brett Shumate told the court.
U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor didn’t make a decision but promised to “as quickly as I can.”
According to Dallas News.com the judge has several options including honoring the Texas coalition’s request to throw out Obamacare immediately, a decision guaranteed to trigger an appeal.
The Dallas news outlet said the argument made on Wednesday by the coalition proposed that the federal government should not decide whether insurers cover pre-existing conditions, but rather the states and not ending the ACA would cause “irreparable harm” to states by subverting their sovereignty and increasing the number of people on their insurance rolls.
“The ACA will continue to cause these harms as long as it operates,” said Darren McCarty, an assistant attorney general for the state of Texas, adding the court should “restore choice to state health insurance markets.”
Democratic attorneys stepped into defend the ACA aruging that tens of millions could lose their health insurance.
“Six million of their residents would be kicked off their Medicaid…..and millions of residents with pre-existing conditions would not be able to purchase or access health care,” California Deputy Attorney General Neli Palma told O’Connor. “The plaintiffs aren’t seeking to maintain the status quo. They’re seeking to blow it up.”
Of the 52 million non-elderly Americans with pre-existing conditions, 4.5 million are Texans and more than 1 million are in Arizona according to estimates by the Kaiser Family Foundation. KFF predicted the number of American adults who could face difficulty obtaining insurance in the individual market if the ACA were repealed or amended and the medical underwriting practices in place prior to 2014 resumed.
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