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On the heels of a likely second-straight year of declining healthcare enrollment, a Texas judge has ruled that core elements of Obamacare are unconstitutional and make the entire law invalid, CNN reports.
The ruling is expected to be appealed, which could take months. It won’t affect 2019 insurance plans.
But legal experts say the ruling does cast doubts about the future of health coverage for millions of Americans via Obamacare exchanges (the Affordable Care Act) and in Medicaid expansion.
If Obamacare went away, between 61 and 133 million people with some type of pre-existing health condition would lose coverage. As a result, they would be forced to pay much higher insurance premiums, and would be subject to a longer waiting period.
Meanwhile, around four million Latinos risk being left unprotected.
“The ruling and expected appeal sets up another cliffhanger in which the fate of the law, which Republicans have unsuccessfully tried to repeal for years, will likely once again ultimately lie with the Supreme Court,” CNN reports.
Decline in Sign-Ups for Obamacare
Enrollment for Obamacare was open from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15 in most states, with insurance plans beginning on Jan. 1, 2019.
However, enrollment is in decline.
“Sign-ups for ObamaCare plans at healthcare.gov, the federal platform used by 39 states, had already lagged behind previous years, putting enrollment on track to drop for the second year in a row under the Trump administration,” The Hill reports.
Reasons for the decline are many.
We recently reported some reasons for decline are fears around public charge, the removal of a Spanish-language ACA outreach , and others.
Seven states are extending their open enrollment periods.
California, for example, allows sigh-ups through Jan. 15, 2019, according to healthcare.com.
Obamacare and Latino Health
The Healthcare Marketplace has proven to increase access to healthcare coverage, especially among Latinos.
Since the implementation of ACA, approximately four million adult Latinos and 600,000 children have obtained medical coverage. This has been reflected in the reduction of the rate of Latinos without coverage that has fallen by 10.9% since 2013.
Latinos’ uninsured rate dropped from 43% in 2010 to less than 25% in 2016. Nearly 1 million people who identify themselves as Latino or Hispanic enrolled in Marketplace plans in 2017 but this year was the lowest enrollement for ACA.
In addition, our community has between eight and 20 million people living with pre-existing health conditions that are covered by ACA.
Affordable Care Act, and expanding Medicaid in all states, was critical in reducing the health disparities among Latinos.
What to Do Now?
Voting on healthcare issues is important.
Health care costs continued to be a top health care issue for voters in the midtern elections, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation election tracking poll released in mid-October 2018. Latino voters increased their participation in this year’s elections by 174% compared with the last midterm elections.
Much of the motivation behind the voters was due to the priority given to healthcare.
“When voters who say health care is ‘very important’ to their decision about who to vote for are asked to say in their own words what health care issue they mean, one-fourth (24 percent of all voters) offer health care costs including prescription drug costs,” according to Kaiser Family Foundation.
“Voters also mention increasing access to health care (19 percent of all voters). Fewer voters mention opposition to or repealing the ACA (8 percent of all voters), Medicare or senior concerns (7 percent of all voters), or concerns about quality of coverage or care (5 percent of all voters). A small share of voters mention, either positively or negatively, single-payer or Medicare-for-all (4 percent of all voters).”