On Tuesday (7/9/19) in New Orleans, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit heard oral arguments on whether a federal judge in Texas made the correct decision in December when he struck down as unconstitutional the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. The parties to the case are primarily state governors who are divided along party lines. The Trump administration has refused to defend the law. Based on the questions asked by two of the three judges hearing the appeal, many analysts are saying that the appeals court is likely to uphold the decision of the lower court. This may lead to the case ultimately winding up before the Supreme Court.
What’s at Stake?
This case has the potential to ultimately lead to the complete dismantling of the ACA and all of its provisions. This could cause millions of Americans who gained health insurance coverage under the ACA to again become uninsured. It would also remove protections for the people who need them the most, including individuals with chronic, high-cost conditions like hemophilia. Among the threatened provisions are the elimination of preexisting condition clauses and lifetime caps on benefits.
What is the Immediate Impact?
Fortunately, nothing changes for now. It may take a while for the appeals court to hand down its decision, and then even longer for the Supreme Court to decide whether to hear the case and then render its own decision. Therefore, for the time being, the ACA remains mostly intact.
What Can Be Done?
Not too much at the moment, as it is in the hands of the courts. In the worst-case scenario, where the ACA is completely struck down, it will fall to Congress to devise a suitable alternative. If that process begins in earnest, affected patient groups will need to advocate for proposals that adequately address patient needs.
The Coalition for Hemophilia B has tracked this issue from the beginning and worked to keep the community informed. We will continue to provide you with timely updates as new information becomes available. For the latest information at any time, please check our B Voice advocacy page.