Eric Galatas, Public News Service

DENVER – This week, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans sided with Texas and 17 other states which argued that requiring people to buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional. What does it mean for Colorado?

Adam Fox, director of strategic engagement with the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, says the ruling strikes down just one component of the ACA – but the decision puts the entire law in jeopardy.

“And what that means is that the health care of some 600,000 Coloradans hangs in the balance, and could be stripped away if the entire ACA is struck down through this court case,” says Fox.

The appeals court sent the case back to a federal district court in Texas to decide if the remaining parts of the ACA can remain without the individual mandate. If the district court says the mandate can’t be separated from the law, the entire ACA could be ruled unconstitutional.

States filed the suit after Congress removed penalties for people who had not signed up for health insurance.

The Affordable Care Act prohibits insurers from denying coverage or charging more for people with pre-existing conditions, which can include allergies, asthma, diabetes, glaucoma and cancer.

Fox says consumers would still be at risk if the ACA is repealed through the courts, even though Colorado has laws on the books that protect people with pre-existing conditions.

“But those protections won’t mean much if people can’t afford their coverage,” says Fox. “And without the Affordable Care Act, many Coloradans would struggle to afford the coverage that they need, and essentially be priced out of health care.”

Fox notes the court’s ruling doesn’t affect current health insurance options, and he encourages Coloradans to continue to get coverage through ‘’ Open enrollment in Colorado continues through January 15, 2020.

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