Eric Galatas, Public News Service

DENVER – Health-care advocates are mustering their resources once again to defend the landmark health legislation passed under the Obama administration after a Texas judge struck down the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional last week.

Adam Fox, director of strategic engagement for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, called on Gov.-Elect Jared Polis, incoming Attorney General Phil Weiser and other Coloradans to take a strong stance against the lawsuit.

“At the end of the day, if this lawsuit, and the ruling that happened on Friday, is upheld,” Fox said, “more than 600,000 Coloradans could lose their health coverage and care.”

The ACA has withstood two previous constitutional challenges, and Fox is hopeful the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will reverse the lower court’s decision. Texas-based U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that Congress’s recent move to strike tax penalties for not having health insurance made the ACA untenable.

The ACA will remain the law of the land as the appeals process goes forward, and Coloradans still can sign up to get financial assistance for coverage through Jan. 15. Fox noted that the Affordable Care Act essentially is a 2,000-page law that touches every aspect of the nation’s health system.

“The ruling that one component would render the entirety of the rest of the law unconstitutional is entirely absurd,” he said, “and it threatens the health care of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Coloradans.”

In 2013, Colorado passed many of the ACA’s consumer protections into state law, including ensuring that people with pre-existing conditions can’t be denied coverage. However, Fox said those protections won’t add up to much if the Texas ruling stands. In that case, financial assistance through the marketplace and expanded Medicaid coverage would end.

The judge’s ruling is online at oag.ca.gov.

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