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Texas Hearing Against ACA Wraps Up as Senators Tie Issue to Kavanaugh

Allison Inserro
A hearing in a federal court in Fort Worth, Texas regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) ended Wednesday, with the attorney general for the Lone Star State leading 19 other like-minded Republican states in trying to convince a judge that a preliminary injunction to put the ACA on hold should be granted. Later, Senate Democrats tied the hearing to the Supreme Court nomination hearing for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who, if confirmed, will likely have to consider the case, Texas v Azar.
A hearing in a federal court in Fort Worth, Texas regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) ended Wednesday with the attorney general for the Lone Star State leading 19 other like-minded Republican states in trying to convince a judge that a preliminary injunction to put the ACA on hold should be granted.

Later, Senate Democrats tied the hearing to the Supreme Court nomination hearing for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who, if confirmed, will likely have to consider the case, Texas v Azar.

The Republicans say that when Congress eliminated the individual mandate for not having health insurance as part of last year’s tax bill, lawmakers rendered the entire health law unconstitutional. While the defendant is technically the Trump administration, the administration announced it would not fully defend the law in court. The Department of Justice (DOJ) said that the individual mandate and consumer protections could be removed from the ACA, but the rest of the landmark health law could stand.

The ACA is being defended by the attorney general from California and 16 states and Washington, DC.
Read more about Texas v Azar. 
According to the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, the judge said he will let them know of his decision as soon as he can.

The lawsuit was filed last February in US District Court in the Northern District of Texas. In a 2012 case against the ACA, a majority of the Supreme Court and the DOJ were clear that the tax penalty was an essential component of the law, according to the lawsuit. They said that when the Supreme Court upheld the ACA, the majority decision stated that without the tax penalty, the mandate that individuals purchase health insurance was an unconstitutional exercise of federal power.

A preliminary injunction, if granted by District Court Judge Reed O’Connor, would create chaos in the nation’s healthcare system, said the Washington Post. Possibilities include halting the purchase of 2019 insurance policies through the ACA insurance marketplaces, ending premium subsidies, or reversing Medicare payment changes.

However, in court Wednesday the GOP-led states asked for the injunction to begin in 2019. Modern Healthcare reported that the Department of Justice said that was so that it would begin after the ACA’s open enrollment period, so as not to rattle health insurers. But at a press conference in the nation’s capitol after the hearing was over, Senate Democrats called the timing of that request politically motivated.

“It was a stunning admission,” said Senator Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, to request that the injunction take place after this year’s midterms.

A new poll released Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the majority of Americans, including Republicans, want the ACA’s protections for pre-existing conditions preserved. Healthcare is a top issue for Democrats and independent voters in the midterms,  and healthcare costs specifically are a concern of everyone, the poll also found.

Senators also voiced concern that if confirmed, Kavanaugh would be hearing Texas v Azar when it reaches the Supreme Court. Critics have said he has voiced concern about how broad the ACA can be.

Brett Kavanaugh is a key part of President Trump’s strategy to strike down protections for people with pre-existing conditions,” said Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Oregon.

The president is trying to use the judicial system to kill the ACA since he could not do it in Congress, the senators said.

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