Jessica Seaman, The Denver Post
A recent ruling from a Texas judge, if upheld, has the potential to end the reign of the Affordable Care Act.
But the ruling is expected to face challenges in court, with some expecting it to work its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. As it stands, the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, remains in place. Consumers shouldn’t expect changes — at least for now — with their health care.
“This court ruling essentially raises the level of uncertainty around the Affordable Care Act and health insurance options down the road,” said Adam Fox, director of strategic engagement for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative.
The ruling was handed down on Friday, the day before one of two sign-up deadlines for individuals buying coverage on Colorado’s health insurance exchange.
The ruling is not expected to affect the number of residents who buy health insurance through the exchange, said Michael Conway,the state’s interim insurance commissioner.
To receive coverage through the state’s exchange by Jan. 1, individuals had to sign up by Dec. 15. But open enrollment doesn’t end until Jan. 15.
So far, more than 156,000 Coloradans have signed up to receive coverage for 2019 through Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s online exchange. The rate of enrollment is 5 percent ahead of last year, according to a news release.
While the judge’s ruling doesn’t immediately eliminate the Affordable Care Act, it’s something to watch as it works its way through the appeals process, said Joe Hanel, managing director of communications for Colorado Health Institute.
This is because if the Affordable Care Act is overturned, he said, it would affect more than the insurance exchange, which was created in 2011 and provides health insurance to a portion of the state’s residents.
The ruling, if upheld, could also affect Medicaid expansion, which extended the government health care program to almost all low-income individuals with incomes at or below 138 percent of the poverty line. The state first grew Medicaid in 2009, but expanded it further under the Affordable Care Act.
In Colorado, the uninsured rate for low-income adults has dropped 29 percentage points since Medicaid was expanded.
Another concern about the case is what it could mean for people with pre-existing conditions. Roughly 753,000 adults in Colorado have a pre-existing condition, according to 2015 data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.