The Affordable Care Act returned to the spotlight this week as a US District Court began proceedings in a lawsuit brought by 20 states asserting the ACA has become invalid and courts should prevent its enforcement. The complaint alleges that the law was rendered unconstitutional by the federal tax act which reduced to $0 the penalty for the individual mandate. You may recall that the Justice Department announced in June that it would not defend the ACA and asked the federal court to strike down key elements of the law including the popular pre-existing condition protections. If the judge overseeing the lawsuit strikes down all or part of the law, the case could land at the Supreme Court, where President Trump’s Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh could be the deciding vote. During his Senate confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh declined to say whether he would uphold the pre-existing condition protections, citing "nominee precedent" for not answering questions on how he would rule on cases that might come before the Court.
Some Republican lawmakers aren’t comfortable with the Department of Justice’s position and have taken matters into their own hands. Recently introduced legislation by 10 GOP senators aims to preserve the ACA’s pre-existing condition protections. But over 25 patient groups, Democrats, and Maine Republican senator Susan Collins are calling the legislation insufficient because individuals with pre-existing conditions could face higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs, clouding the outlook for the bill as written.
Developments on either of these fronts could impact the upcoming mid-term elections as healthcare remains a top priority for American voters.