Monday we told you a federal judge in Fort Worth struck down the Affordable Care Act. For now the ACA, or Obamacare, remains the law of the land, pending appeal. But in the wake of the court decision, Gov. Greg Abbott weighed in, with an intriguing tweet.
If Obamacare remains struck down on appeal Texas will be ready with replacement health care insurance that includes coverage for preexisting conditions. We will also work with Congress to ensure Texans have access to the healthcare insurance they need. https://t.co/GQbqrmJZCy
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) December 17, 2018
So how likely is it that Obamacare will end, and if it does, what could the Texas legislature do to replace it? William Sage, professor of law and medicine at the University of Texas at Austin says an end to the ACA will not come quickly, and he says Judge Reed O’Connor did not rule Obamacare to be unconstitutional. The ruling says that because Congress removed the ACA tax penalty for those who don’t buy health insurance, the law is invalid.
“If Congress were able to enact a $1 tax penalty for individuals who decline insurance, that $1 tax penalty would pass Constitutional muster under Judge O’Connor’s analysis,” Sage says. “This was an extremely broad and technical ruling.”
Sage is similarly dismissive of Abbott’s proposal.
“As a health policy expert, frankly, I find it hard to take Governor Abbott’s proposal seriously,” Sage says. “It reminds me of an arsonist who’s selling fire insurance after burning down the neighborhood.”
Sage says the legislature could improve health care access and affordability for Texans,but that it isn’t a matter of changing insurance rules.
“The governor and the legislature, for now nearly a decade, have turned down $10 billion a year in federal funding by declining the Medicaid expansion, he says.
Rather than focus on insurance, Sage says, Texas could improve the efficiency of health care services, and the underlying health of the state’s residents.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.