Federal Court Decision Will Push ACA Status Deep into 2020

December 19, 2019

While there’s been another legal development in a case that could affect the constitutionality of the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA), yesterday’s decision at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has delayed resolution of any ultimate decision well into 2020, if not beyond.

In a 2-1 opinion released Dec. 18, the appeals court agreed with a lower court decision that the individual mandate provision in the ACA is unconstitutional, but returned the case to that Texas federal district court for more detailed reasoning as to why the lower court had ruled the entire ACA should be struck down as a result. Remanding the case back to the original court adds another level of procedural complexity that will likely add months to any ultimate court decision regarding the 2010 law’s constitutionality.

More than 200,000 Wisconsinites in 2019 enrolled in ACA plans through Wisconsin’s xchange system. The state’s Office of the Commissioner of Insurance announced earlier this year that exchange marketplace enrollees in 61 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties will have three or more insurers from which to choose – a large gain from the 46 counties offering that level of choice in 2018.

California’s attorney general, defending the legitimacy of the ACA in the case, says he will appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court; many legal experts believe the nation’s highest court is unlikely to take up the case before all potential lower court proceedings have been exhausted.

This story originally appeared in the December 19, 2019 edition of WHA Newsletter