The New York Times recently reported on the Trump Administration’s continued attempts to remove protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions and other protections in the Affordable Care Act. A case filed by Republican politicians is on appeal and may make its way to the Supreme Court ahead of the 2020 election. The Trump administration refused to defend the full law in court and agreed with the ruling that the law’s requirement for people to buy insurance was unconstitutional, and that as a result, the entire law must be dismantled.
The Affordable Care Act’s mandate requiring most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty remained constitutional after Congress eliminated the penalty as part of the tax overhaul that Mr. Trump signed in 2017. When the Supreme Court upheld the mandate in its landmark 2012 ruling that saved the law, it was based on Congress’s power to impose taxes.
If the mandate is indeed unconstitutional, the next question is whether the rest of the Affordable Care Act can function without it.
If the current decision stands, the number of uninsured people in America would increase by almost 20 million, or 65 percent, according to the Urban Institute, a research organization. That includes millions who gained coverage through the law’s expansion of Medicaid, and millions more who receive subsidized private insurance through the law’s online marketplaces.
Insurers would no longer have to cover young adults up to age 26 under their parents’ plans; annual and lifetime limits on coverage would again be permitted; and there would be no cap on out-of-pocket medical costs people have to pay.
Also gone would be the law’s popular protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Without those protections, insurers could return to denying coverage to such people or to charging them more. They could also return to charging people more based on their age, gender or profession.
The Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan research organization, has estimated that 52 million adults from 18 to 64, or 27 percent of that population, would be rejected for individual market coverage under the practices that were in effect in most states before the Affordable Care Act.