Graphic by Tai Michaels.
As the pandemic continues to worsen in many areas, there are worrying signs that the Affordable Care Act, the central law of nationalized healthcare, may be at risk. A case soon to come before the supreme court may declare the entire law unconstitutional leaving tens of millions without health coverage in the middle of these chaotic times.
The case Texas vs. California began with a ruling that declared the individual mandate – the fee charged to Americans without insurance – unconstitutional. This itself would have been inconsequential since congress set the fee to $0 in 2018; however, the ruling also claimed that the individual mandate being unconstitutional made the entire law unconstitutional thereby putting the entire system in jeopardy. The case has since been appealed all the way to the supreme court where it awaits judgement from a 6-3 majority conservative court due to the recent appointment of Amy Coney Barrett.
It is difficult to determine which way the court will go, but the probable outcomes include:
1. Declaring only the individual mandate to be unconstitutional – effectively nothing would change
2. Declaring the individual mandate and several other key sections including protections for preexisting conditions unconstitutional – this could remove protections for over 100 million people with preexisting conditions
3. Declaring the entire law unconstitutional – would cut off healthcare access for millions
A lot is still up in the air, but whichever decision they make will have huge consequences for healthcare access at a critical moment.