By Dania Douglas, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy - Disability Network
In a decision released December 18, the fifth Circuit Court of Appeals said the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that requires individuals to purchase health insurance is unconstitutional, but declined to rule on the status of the rest of the law, including protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions and Medicaid expansion. Instead, the Appeals Court sent back to the court that had previously heard the case the question of whether the rest of the law can remain without the mandate, or if the unconstitutionality of one portion means that the entire law must be struck down. The states attorneys general who are arguing in support of the law also plan to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, and the timeline for any of these hearings is uncertain. In the meantime, the law remains in force. Whatever the outcome of these judicial proceedings, Lutheran Services in America urges Congress and the Administration to preserve in federal law the critical pre-existing condition provisions and Medicaid expansion which protect the country’s most vulnerable people and ensure that all Americans have access to affordable, quality health care.