Cover Texas Now Responds to Judge O’Connor’s Ruling, Asks State Leaders to Protect Health Care
Late on Friday, December 14 (and just hours before the end of open enrollment), Judge Reed O’Connor gave millions of Texans a lump of coal for Christmas with his ruling to strike down the Affordable Care Act.
The ACA brought significant improvements into the health care landscape, such as required essential benefits, the elimination of annual and lifetime maximum benefit caps, the ability of children to stay on a parent’s insurance until age 26, protections for people with pre-existing conditions and community long-term services and supports for Texans living with disabilities.
Texas health care advocates are appalled by the ruling not only because of the harm it could cause Texans if upheld, but also because of the harm it will cause millions of Americans across the country as current protections under the ACA come into doubt. We are further appalled that it's our own state that took this case to court in an effort to eliminate protections for people with preexisting conditions and the other health care benefits provided under the ACA.
The Affordable Care Act continues to be in force and there are no immediate effects to health insurance plans while this ruling is appealed. However, this case is the latest in a long line of threats to health coverage, creating chaos and confusion for the many Americans who depend upon the protections of the Affordable Care Act.
With the Texas legislative session on the horizon, there has never been a more urgent time to codify the ACA’s consumer protections, including protections for pre-existing conditions, into Texas law. Furthermore, it is long past time for Texas to take responsibility for the state’s extraordinary (and growing) number of uninsured people and to develop a rational coverage solution. Texas not only leads the nation with the largest number and percentage of uninsured people, we also have the highest number of uninsured children—10.7 percent of Texas children are uninsured—more than twice the national average.
We call on leadership at the highest levels of the state to abandon attempts to undo the ACA, to work with policymakers of both parties to expand healthcare coverage to low-wage Texans who are still waiting for access to affordable care, and to make good on their promises to protect the health care of all Texans.
We welcome Governor Abbott’s call to “...expand healthcare insurance coverage, reduce the cost of healthcare, and ensure that Texans with pre-existing conditions are protected.” Those are goals that our coalition also holds, and we encourage the governor to make good on his proposal to ensure true comprehensive, affordable, and inclusive healthcare coverage for all Texans.