Capitol Correspondence - 01.21.20

Affordable Care Act in Limbo Until After 2020 Presidential Election

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Intellectual / Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) are considered pre-existing conditions by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), making the legal challenges to the ACA concerning to the disability community. For now, the ACA is in legal limbo until after the 2020 presidential election. As reported by Politico Pro:

“The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected Democrats’ plea to consider a high-stakes legal challenge that could kill Obamacare, punting a resolution in the politically fraught case until after the presidential election.

The decision deals a blow to Democrats’ hopes to elevate the issue in 2020, but it will come as a relief to President Donald Trump and Republicans, who’ve been wary of the lawsuit’s potential to scramble their election hopes.

A coalition of blue states and the House of Representatives, which are defending the Affordable Care Act in the lawsuit, had pressed the high court to intervene after a federal appeals court last month refused to rule on the law’s constitutionality and sent the case back to a federal judge in Texas who had earlier issued a ruling knocking out the entire law.

The one-sentence order only said the court would not take up the case in an unusually rapid order. It did not rule out full review of the case at a later date.

In deciding to immediately stay out of the fray, the justices sided with the Trump administration and group of red states leading the challenge to Obamacare. They opposed an immediate Supreme Court review of the case, arguing that there was no “emergency,” even as Democrats argued that prolonging uncertainty around Obamacare harms the millions of people who rely on the law for insurance. It could take years for lower courts to resolve the lawsuit.

The outcome means Trump will face less pressure to articulate an Obamacare replacement plan during the campaign. Republicans failed to agree on an Obamacare replacement when they had complete control of the federal government in the first two years of Trump’s presidency, and they haven’t come up with a new plan since then. A health care proposal developed by Trump’s Medicare chief Seema Verma was nixed last summer over her colleagues’ concerns it would have actually strengthened Obamacare rather than replace it.

The lawsuit’s lingering threat to Obamacare exposes Trump to attacks that he is still trying to gut the law’s popular protections for people with preexisting conditions. Democrats leveraged the lawsuit and voters’ worries about health coverage to secure huge gains in the 2018 midterms, retaking the House majority. Still, they worry that Republicans could dodge political consequences if Obamacare is ultimately struck down after the November election.”