The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals effectively placed the health coverage of over 20 million women, men and children at risk today; when they struck down the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and placed the fate of the ACA back in the hands of a judge who has already ruled the ACA unconstitutional. The effects are likely to be devastating. Women who currently receive coverage through the federal marketplace will almost certainly lose their coverage. Nine million people could lose federal subsidies for their premiums, and 17 million people in Medicaid expansion states may lose their coverage.
Remanding the final decision back to a lower court that already ruled the entire law unconstitutional makes it fairly certain that the strides made under the ACA will be reversed. The 68 million women and girls with preexisting conditions, including pregnancy, will no longer be guaranteed access to coverage. Women of color who consistently experience poorer maternal and other health outcomes will be disproportionately harmed; progress toward narrowing longstanding gender, racial and ethnic disparities will be reversed.
Women stand to lose a lot from this ruling. This includes coverage of care that is essential to women’s health such as maternity care, contraception, prescription drugs, mental health and substance use disorder services, and zero cost-sharing for preventive services such as cancer and STI screenings, flu shots, and women’s well visits. It means the loss of ACA protections against women being charged higher premiums than men, limits on out-of-pocket health costs, and the prohibition against lifetime or annual caps that drove so many women and families into bankruptcy.
The court’s decision is also a thinly veiled attempt to delay these devastating impacts until after the 2020 election. It’s a political maneuver that trades the health and lives of millions of people to protect the Republican Party from the consequences of a Supreme Court decision in an election year.
The Court may have abandoned these families, but we never will. The National Partnership will continue to fight the relentless efforts to sabotage the ACA and strip health coverage from the millions of women and families. We will not abandon the fight to ensure every person in this country has access to the health coverage they need.