LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is gearing up for a battle over Americans’ healthcare coverage after a federal judge in Texas struck down the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act Friday.
Twenty republican state attorneys general filed the lawsuit earlier this year. They were opposed by a group of democrats who defended the ACA, also known as Obamacare.
A federal judge in Texas Friday sided with the plaintiffs in the case, ruling the entire law is unconstitutional. That opinion, if upheld by higher courts, would overturn and abolish the entire ACA.
The decision will be appealed by a coalition of democratic states, led by California.
State Attorney General Becerra released a statement reading in part: “Today’s ruling is an assault on 133 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, on the 20 million Americans who rely on the ACA for healthcare … ”
Loyola Law School Professor Jessica Levinson says the stakes in the case are high.
“If this ruling stands, people with pre-existing health conditions will be penalized. People who have health problems will pay higher insurance premiums. And the idea that politicians are telling them that that won’t happen is frankly a lie,” she said.
President Trump appeared delighted by the ruling. He tweeted Friday night: “As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been struck down as an UNCONSTITUTIONAL disaster! Now Congress must pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare and protects pre-existing conditions. Mitch and Nancy, get it done!” he exclaimed in reference to the majority leaders of the Senate and House next year.
The ruling has a long trip of appeals ahead of it before anything can change, however.
“I think it’s important for people to note: no change right now, no change today, no change tomorrow,” Levinson said. “This will work its way up through the appeals process. I think, frankly, the earliest we would see a decision would be sometime around this summer, which would mean this Supreme Court term. That may be even quick in and of itself.”
Peter V. Lee, Executive Director of the state exchange Covered California, echoed that statement and urged consumers to take note of open enrollment deadlines.
“No one in America should let this Texas district court ruling discourage them from enrolling in health coverage or be worried about using the health coverage they have,” Lee stated.
Consumers who want their coverage to begin January 1, 2019 need to sign up by tomorrow, December 15, 2018.
Covered California’s open enrollment continues through January 15, 2019.