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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

NCIL Statement on the Fifth Circuit Court’s Ruling in Texas v. United States

The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) is deeply concerned by Monday’s ruling from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Texas vs. United States. The court ruled that the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unconstitutional and sent the case back to the lower court to decide whether the remainder of the ACA can remain intact without it. Read the ruling (PDF). However, the district judge at the lower court has already ruled the entire law is unconstitutional, and this same judge now has the power to determine the fate of the ACA. 

The Court‘s decision puts the health care of millions of people in jeopardy. There is no question that repealing the ACA would have devastating consequences, and it would disproportionately hurt disabled people. Because of the ACA, insurers cannot discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions by denying coverage, charging higher premiums, or refusing to cover care related to those conditions. Insurers can’t impose lifetime or annual dollar limits. Plans must cover the Essential Health Benefits. Over 20 million people have gained health insurance and over 12 million people have gained Medicaid coverage through Medicaid expansion because of the ACA. All of this is at risk.

It is important to know that the ACA remains in place right now. That said, the future of the law continues to be uncertain. The case is widely expected to end up at the Supreme Court. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced last night that he plans to appeal to the Supreme Court immediately, asking them to hear the case without having it go back to the lower court judge first.

Earlier this year, NCIL joined a coalition of disability organizations in filing an amicus brief (PDF) explaining how critical the ACA is to disabled people, and how its elimination would disproportionately harm us. NCIL will continue to fight to protect our healthcare. This lawsuit is just the Administration’s most recent assault on the ACA and our right to the healthcare and protections that come with it. If they are successful, it would mean higher costs, less coverage, and less protection. We cannot allow the progress we’ve made to be lost, and we will not stop fighting!

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